Thursday, April 21, 2022

Bird Flu and Swine Fever Updates: More Birds and Now Pigs Destroyed

By Tim Gamble

This article briefly updates my earlier articles on the spreading Bird Flu in both wild birds and commercial flocks worldwide. Links to the earlier articles: March 20April 3,and April 11. This article also reports on a resurgence of African Swine Fever in Asia. 

Bird Flu Update: Spreading

The ongoing Bird Flu epidemic continues to spread, with new cases in the US (commercial flocks in Colorado and Pennsylvania) and in Canada (commercial flocks in Quebec and wild snow geese in Manitoba) being reported in the last few days. The Bird Flu is also spreading in Europe, with Hungary being the latest country to report Bird Flu in commercial flocks. 

There is no treatment or vaccine for Bird Flu. Infected commercial and backyard flocks must be destroyed to prevent the spread of Bird Flu. This has lead to about 30 million chickens and turkeys in 29 states being destroyed in the USA this year.

African Swine Fever (ASF) Is Back

Remember the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak in Asia during 2018 and 2019 which resulted in over 100 million pigs being destroyed? Unfortunately, it seems to be making a comeback. Multiple farms in India have suffered ASF outbreaks in the last month, and now there are confirmed cases in Bhutan. There is no word yet on the number of pigs destroyed in the recent outbreaks.

African swine fever is a viral disease of pigs and wild boar that has almost a 100% mortality rate. There are no vaccines or treatments for ASF, which means that infected groups of pigs are typically destroyed to prevent the spread. Humans cannot get ASF.

Impact on Food Prices and Availability

The larger and most immediate threat is the Bird Flu epidemic, which is already impacting prices for poultry and eggs, as well as other products containing them. Depending on the ultimate length and severity of the epidemic, which currently shows no signs of slowing, prices and availability will likely be increasingly affected.

It is too early to predict anything about the length and severity of the new African Swine Fever outbreak in parts of Asia. The major outbreak in Asia during 2018 and 2019 did have a considerable impact on pork prices worldwide, as many Asian countries began importing more pork from other parts of the world, straining global supplies and driving pork prices higher.

Continue to be aware of these situations, and prepare accordingly.

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