US kills 240,000 chickens after bird flu outbreak

Black and white picture of chickens with one standing in the middle, animal news
Chickens, photo: Joaquin Corbalan via Canva

The H5N1 strain of bird flu was discovered at a chicken farm in Missouri, the United States Department of Agriculture said on Friday. All 240,000 chickens at the farm will be killed and their bodies destroyed.

Bird flu cases have been confirmed at ten chicken and turkey farms in four states in the last month in the US. In February, about 240,000 chickens owned by Tyson Foods were killed after bird flu was discovered at a farm in Kentucky, about 65 miles (105 km) east of the latest outbreak in Missouri. Outbreaks were also confirmed in Iowa and Connecticut.

Due to intensive bird farming, the highly pathogenic H5N1 type of bird flu emerged. “Normally, wild birds only carry the low-pathogenic variant. In intensive poultry farming, this mild flu mutated into a serious variant,” Dutch virologist Thijs Kuiken of Erasmus University Rotterdam said.

Years ago, the lethal H5N1 variant escaped from intensive bird farms in Asia and spread through Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America.

“In the long term, we have to realize that the intensive way of raising animals, with a huge number of animals huddled together in one spot, is no longer sustainable for many reasons,” Kuiken said.

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