Avian flu has now been detected in flocks of birds in Virginia and Kentucky, just days after Indiana officials had to euthanize 29,000 turkeys due to the spread of the virus, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday.
Dozens of wild birds have tested positive along the East Coast in recent weeks, including three in the Carolinas last month. Avian flu usually does not cause any symptoms in wild birds, but it can be deadly in domestic poultry.
Birds at a commercial turkey farm in Southern Indiana contracted the virus last week, forcing officials to cull 29,000 turkeys in an attempt to stop the spread.
A backyard flock of mixed birds in Virginia had to be culled after they tested positive for avian flu.
Officials are also working to depopulate a flock of commercial broiler chickens in Fulton County, Kentucky, that tested positive for the flu. Test results are still pending for a separate flock in Webster County.
The culled birds will not enter the food system at a time when the agricultural industry is already being challenged by rising inflation and supply chain issues.
The price index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs saw the “largest increase” among all food groups last month, rising 12.2% over January of last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Poultry farms in Africa, Europe, and Asia are also dealing with avian flu.
Human infection is rare but can occur after close contact with an infected animal. There is no record of Americans contracting highly pathogenic avian flu viruses, but worldwide, 864 people have contracted it since 2003, resulting in 456 deaths, according to the CDC and WHO.