Arizona confirms first cases of a bird flu that has already killed 37 million birds

Date of publication : 6/13/2022
Source : https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona/2022/06/09/highly-contagious-avian-flu-found-arizona-first-time/7575431001/

Bob Christie / Associated Press

Arizona officials have confirmed the first cases in the Southwest of a bird flu that has led to the deaths of 37 million birds from commercial farms in the central and eastern U.S.

The disease was spotted after tests by federal wildlife officials on three wild cormorants that had been found dead in a park in Scottsdale, Arizona Game & Fish Department officials announced this week.

The disease has not yet been found in any domestic birds or in commercial operations, the agency said.

But it is a concern, according to Glenn Hickman, president and CEO of Hickman Family Farms, one of the largest egg producers in the Southwest. Hickman operates four chicken ranches in Arizona, one in California and two in Colorado.

The company has stopped any visits to its farms and double-checked its biosecurity program, which is designed to prevent its approximately 2 million chickens from being infected. Its chickens are kept in barns that are secured so that wild birds can't enter, and any people or tools that enter are disinfected.

The company dodged a scare recently when the avian flu was found in a flock 3 miles from one of its Colorado farms, Hickman said Thursday. And while he's concerned about the Scottsdale find, it's not anywhere near as concerning as if a nearby commercial operation had an outbreak.

“Those are a lot scarier because the massive amount of virus that is potentially produced when you have a large population is much more than the relatively small amount of virus per bird in the wild bird population,” he said. None of his farms was affected.

 
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