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Avian Influenza's Deadly Grip: Egg Production Halted, Human Case Emerges

Avian Influenza's Deadly Grip: Egg Production Halted, Human Case Emerges
Avian Influenza's Deadly Grip: Egg Production Halted, Human Case Emerges

Bird Flu Outbreak in Texas Shuts Down Major Egg Producer

Cal-Maine Foods, the largest egg producer in the United States, has temporarily closed a facility in Parmer County, Texas, due to an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1), commonly known as bird flu. The outbreak resulted in the culling of approximately 2 million laying hens and 337,000 pullets, representing around 3.6% of the company's total flock.

The facility has ceased production while Cal-Maine follows protocols prescribed by the USDA. The company emphasizes that there is no known risk associated with eggs currently in the market and that no eggs have been recalled.

Rare Human Case of Bird Flu

The outbreak comes shortly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a rare human case of bird flu in Texas. The individual had exposure to dairy cattle infected with the H5N1 virus and experienced only mild symptoms of conjunctivitis. The patient is recovering and being treated with antiviral medication.

This marks the second case of human H5N1 infection in the United States, following a previous case in Colorado in 2022. The CDC emphasizes that the risk to the general public remains low, but individuals with prolonged exposure to infected birds or contaminated environments are at higher risk.

Dairy Cows Infected with Bird Flu

In addition to the poultry outbreak, dairy cows in Texas and Kansas have also been reported infected with bird flu. The virus can spread through contact with infected birds, their bodily fluids, or contaminated environments.

Impact on Egg Prices

The outbreak is likely to further contribute to the elevated egg prices consumers have been facing. The loss of such a significant portion of the nation's egg-laying flock will undoubtedly affect supply and demand.

Mitigation Efforts

Cal-Maine Foods is actively working to minimize disruption to customers by securing production from other facilities. The company is also collaborating with government agencies and industry groups to mitigate the risk of future outbreaks and effectively manage the response.

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