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NYT: Another Avian Flu Outbreak Could Devastate Food System

Image: NYT: Another Avian Flu Outbreak Could Devastate Food System
Chicken farm in Iowa. (Getty Images) 

By    |   Wednesday, 13 Apr 2016 06:03 PM

A new report discusses the prospect of another avian flu outbreak in the United States, which could have devastating consequences for the nation's food system.

Last year's outbreak claimed the lives of an estimated 43 million chickens and turkeys in 15 states. Many of the deaths were preventable, as USADA guidelines require all birds to be killed on a farm if the virus is there.

The New York Times takes a detailed look at the avian flu and the threat it and other agricultural diseases pose to both the U.S. and the globe as a whole.

The avian flu outbreak of 2015 swept through Iowa hard, with one farm in the state losing 5.3 million hens. The virus was first detected in Minnesota. Avian flu is generally spread by migratory birds, although officials don't know for sure how it affected so many farms.

The Times report compares avian flu outbreaks of the past to other agricultural disease outbreaks, including those that affect livestock. Mad cow disease, for example, could hit the U.S. economy with a price tag ranging from $15 billion to $100 billion, the Times reports.

One of the roles of the Department of Homeland Security, which was set up in 2003 in the wake of the September 11, 2011 terrorist attacks, is to protect the nation's food system.

"Protecting the Nation's food and agricultural critical infrastructure is an important responsibility shared by Federal, State, local, tribal, and territorial governments and private sector partners. Interruption of operations within the sector could have a potentially devastating impact on the Nation's public health and economy," reads a document about DHS's Food and Agriculture Sector.

"The protection of the Nation's critical infrastructure, therefore, is an essential part of the homeland security mission of making America safer, more secure, and more resilient from terrorist attacks and other natural and manmade hazards."

There was another avian flu outbreak in Indiana this year, with 413,000 birds euthanized by the end of January. And in December, Massachusetts issued a warning for farmers to watch out for the virus.

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A new report discusses the prospect of another avian flu outbreak in the United States, which could have devastating consequences for the nation's food system.
avian, flu, outbreak, impact, food, supply, report
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2016-03-13
Wednesday, 13 Apr 2016 06:03 PM
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