The bird flu continues to keep grocery bills high, while leading to illness in many different areas of the world.
Bird flu has been making a lot of headlines in recent months, and that trend has continued in Massachusetts among swans. In March, an unusual number of birds were found dead around the city, and local officials became suspicious that something was going on out of the ordinary. In total, 25 wild birds were found deceased, and of those seven tested positive for bird flu. This news is concerning for various reasons, including what the avian flu has been doing to the food supply in the United States recently. Anyone who shops in a grocery store knows that the prices for things like eggs and chicken meat have gone up dramatically, and availability has been limited. While the birds impacted in this case were not going to be part of the food supply, it speaks to the ongoing presence of this virus among swans and other birds, and the importance of continuing to monitor the situation,
A quick look at the tracking that is done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals an incredible toll that has been taken by bird flu. In total, more than 58 million poultry had been affected as of the middle of April. Only three of the 50 states have not reported a case of bird flu in poultry at this point. With that said, despite the shocking number of cases found in birds, just one confirmed human case has resulted in the United States.
With the loss of so many millions of poultry across the country, skyrocketing prices in chicken and eggs were inevitable. Around the globe, it is being estimated that the economic impact of the avian flu outbreak will cost around $2 trillion. Even if the spread of this illness starts to fade, or limits itself to birds we don’t eat (like swans), it will take some time for supply to stabilize and prices to retreat.
For the average person who doesn’t work in the poultry industry, there isn’t much that needs to be done actively about the avian flu outbreak. It is still safe to eat the chicken and eggs that arrive on your grocery store’s shelves, provided they are prepared properly. If a person happens to find a dead bird in their area, however, they’ll want to avoid touching it and should consider reporting it to the relevant local authorities so it can be removed and possibly tested. With regard to live birds, avoiding direct contact if encountering them in the wild is important.
For now, it seems like there is very little risk to the human population in terms of this virus causing widespread illness among people. But that doesn’t mean we can afford to take it lightly. Should a person become infected, there is always the possibility of things taking a turn for the worse very quickly. Also, ongoing problems with bird flu are likely to keep impacting the food supply, and the economy, in general, and if the virus circulates for long enough with enough variations, it can’t be ruled out that it might start to impact human health more significantly in the months to come.