Bird Flu Found On Long Island Farm

By: Emmanuel Jaquez
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Bird Flu Found On Long Island Farm

As society comes closer to what’s being described as ‘endemic’ , people are becoming more aware of dangerous microbes. The recent findings of avian flu on Long Island, which currently only affects birds, might have people concerned. 

Bird flu, otherwise known as avian flu, is a type of influenza virus that primarily infects birds but, in some cases, can infect humans. The spread of bird flu is usually contracted by interactions with infected birds. The recent avian flu findings on Long Island found that eight chickens in a flock on a Suffolk County farm were infected with the avian flu. New York Health officials have been finding ways to contain the small outbreak on the Island. 

The bird flu affects birds in different ways, such as lack of energy, appetite coordination, and in some cases, sudden death. The avian flu also affects birds physically, with some experiencing swelling of various body parts, purple discoloration, diarrhea, nasal discharge, reduced egg production and abnormal eggs. The federal government’s primary concern is to prevent the contamination of the avian flu to poultry farms in the states. 

The avian virus can affect various organs sometimes within 48 hours and has a death rate of 90% to 100% in chickens. Ducks can also be infected without signs of infection. 

The avian flu has been going around Asia and Europe. Not only has the bird flu been found in New York, but it was also detected in Connecticut, Indiana, Vermont, and Virginia.

Samples of the birds that were thought to contain the avian virus on Long Island were sent to Cornell University Animal Health Diagnostic, which is part of the National Animal Health Laboratory (NVSL), to be tested for the virus, which resulted in a tested positive. The New York Department of Agriculture euthanized the eight birds to help prevent the spread of this infectious virus.

Seven years ago, roughly 50 million infected birds in America were killed by a variant of the flu. The federal government has been closely monitoring the situation. In hopes of preventing a widespread outbreak again, such as in 2015. The outbreak cost the government roughly a billion dollars. 

The avian flu mutates at a high rate, which can make it difficult for health officials to create a vaccine. The rapid mutation of the avian flu allows the virus’s genetic makeup to change, making it more difficult for the host to become immune. 

According to a statement by the USDA, “Federal and State partners are working jointly on additional surveillance and testing in areas around the affected flock. The United States has the strongest AI surveillance program in the world, and USDA is working with its partners to actively look for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets, and in migratory wild bird populations.”

Bird Flu Found On Long Island Farm

In the early weeks of February 2022, The United States of Agriculture (USDA) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) found an avian flu outbreak through a commercial turkey flock in Dubois County, Indiana. 

According to a statement by USDA, state officials from Indiana quarantined the affected premises. The USDA depopulated the birds from the area to help prevent the spread of the avian flu. Roughly 29,000 birds were euthanized to help protect the other birds susceptible to the virus.  

The spread of avian flu can be detrimental to America’s food system, especially with COVID hitting the supply chain in devastating ways. Compared to last January, the prices of chicken parts increased 11.6%, according to the Consumer Price Index via the U.S. Bureau Of Labor Statistics.

With the price of chicken increasing due to various reasons such as labor shortages, the consumers are left with paying the price increase. 

Americans will likely suffer the consequences if the avian flu hits hard on U.S. livestock. This would result in U.S. citizens paying a higher price for the same or even less of the amount they are accustomed to paying. 

Fast-food giant Burger King has recently decreased their nugget count from 10 to eight, with prices staying the same to help battle the chicken shortage. 

Poultry is one of the most consumed types of meat in the country. With influenza being most commonly found during the fall and winter seasons, the CDC states that influenza activity is most prevalent between December and February but can sometimes be prevalent as late as May. 

The federal and state partners are working together using different methods and technologies to help prevent the spread of this infectious virus. The use of AI surveillance programs is a main contribution in preventing spreading.

As birds migrate, the avian flu can spread to new places. People who own birds should be mindful of any sudden deaths from their flock of birds. People who suspect their birds of having this flu should immediately contact one’s agricultural extension office, local veterinarian, local animal health diagnostic laboratory, or the USDA at 1-866-536-7593. Ensuring to disinfect areas where wild birds can congregate will lower the risk of birds catching the avian virus.   

Health officials urge there is no fear for the avian flu to be spread from birds to humans, but it is still possible for humans to catch the virus.

Emmanuel Jaquez

Emmanuel Jaquez

Being a college student is hard, but knowing that hard work will pay off is one of my primary motivations. I earned a journalism associate's degree at Suffolk County Community College. I am currently on track to achieve my bachelor's degree at Stony Brook University by 2022.

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