High Path Bird Flu Reappears on U.S. Soil

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The U.S. poultry industry has been put on notice that the H5N2 strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza has again been found on U.S. soil.

USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service has confirmed that the virus was detected in a single hunter-harvested wild mallard duck in Fergus County, Montana.

While there have been no additional detections, as of Jan. 9, of avian influenza in either wild or domestic birds in Montana, USDA stresses the need for good biosecurity programs on poultry farms.

“This appears to be one of the strains we saw during the outbreak in 2014 and 2015,” said Dr. Jack Shere, USDA chief veterinarian. “This finding serves as a powerful reminder that there is still avian influenza circulating in wild birds, and producers and industry need to continue to be vigilant about biosecurity to protect domestic poultry.”

The 2015 outbreak killed more than 48 million birds in 223 separate outbreaks across the country and caused U.S. trading partners to ban U.S. egg exports. Revenue for the poultry industry dropped $400 million, or 14 percent, in the first half of 2015 as compared to the previous year.

The U.S. egg industry has since rebounded with a surplus of product. But while the U.S. has a surplus, other countries have egg shortages due to outbreaks of avian influenza.

One such country is South Korea which has seen its worst-ever bird flu epidemic with a record 31 million birds being culled since November last year. This has led to a shortage of eggs just ahead of the peak egg demand for the Lunar New Year holiday season at the end of January.

To help ease the shortage, the U.S. and South Korea reached an agreement in which a total of 2.98 million fresh eggs will be shipped via airlines from the U.S. to South Korea.

As part of the agreement, South Korea waived all duties on U.S. egg products, including shell egg and liquid egg products through June 2017.

This is the first fresh egg imports from the U.S. to South Korea.

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