Sep 28, 2022 - News

Deadly avian flu makes a comeback in Colorado

Chickens in a hen house. Photo: Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Bird flu is back in Colorado sooner than experts expected after a multi-month lull.

Why it matters: Avian influenza — deemed "extremely infectious" and "often fatal" to chickens — is devastating bird populations and commercial operations nationwide.

  • As a result, poultry prices are rising at a time when inflation is already pinching pockets.
  • The cost of eggs was up 82% last month compared to last August, per the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What's happening: State officials have detected at least three bird flu outbreaks since Sept. 21, Colorado Department of Agriculture spokesperson Olga Robak tells Axios Denver.

  • Within the last week, the disease has been confirmed in a blue-winged teal in Boulder County; a hawk in Larimer County; and at a commercial facility in Weld County.
  • Nearly 5 million commercial birds have died or been killed due to the virus since Colorado's first outbreak this past March.

What they're saying: The disease can "wipe out entire domestic poultry flocks in less than 72 hours," Colorado state veterinarian Maggie Baldwin said. "The most important thing bird owners can do right now is limit interaction between their flocks and wild birds."

State of play: Officials at the Denver Zoo are "monitoring the situation very closely," but have not made the decision to move any birds at this time, spokesperson Jake Kubié tells us.

  • The avian influenza outbreak earlier this year prompted Denver Zoo leaders to relocate their birds indoors for nearly four months.

The big picture: Similar to spring, the avian flu has barreled across the country once again, from California and Idaho to Texas and Minnesota.

  • More than 46 million birds across 40 states have been killed from the disease since February, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

What to watch: As bird populations migrate south for the winter, some experts predict the outbreaks will only get worse.

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Denver.

More Denver stories