Nov 26, 2022 - Health

Avian flu outbreak in U.S. worst on record, over 50 million birds dead

Turkeys run free in a barn area on November 04, 2022 in Cheshire, United Kingdom.

Turkeys run free in a barn area on Nov. 4 in Cheshire, United Kingdom. Photo: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

At least 50.54 million birds have died this year from the Avian flu, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Why it matters: This represents the highest amount of deaths of chickens, turkeys and other birds since 50.5 million died from an outbreak in 2015, according to Reuters.

Details: The bird flu can kill birds once they're infected, according to Reuters. After a bird tests positive, entire culls are killed to control the spread of the disease.

The big picture: The U.S. outbreak began in February of this year and has spread across 46 states so far, according to the USDA.

  • The outbreak brought a turkey shortage to the United States for Thanksgiving, limiting the amount of 20-pound turkeys available, Axios' Kelly Tyko and Emily Peck write. However, snagging a turkey was still very possible for much of the country.
Confirmed bird flu outbreaks
Data: USDA; Map: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

Of note: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends avoiding unprotected contact with wild or domestic birds, especially if they look sick or if they're dead.

  • Bird infections in people can happen after prolonged and unprotected exposure, the CDC says.

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