The total number of birds this year, which includes turkeys and chickens, is 50.54 million. This surpasses the 2015 record.
More than 40 states were affected by the outbreak, which is more than twice the number in the previous one.
Although the risk to humans is minimal, authorities warn that it is important to take safety precautions around birds.
Wild birds transmit the disease through direct contact, feathers and feces.
Rosemary Sifford (the chief veterinary officer at USDA) was quoted by Reuters as saying that “Wild birds continue spreading HPAI [highly pathogenic avian Influenza] throughout the country as their migrate. So preventing contact between domestic birds and wild birds is crucial to protect US poultry.”
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in a 3 November announcement, stated that although the risk to the public is low, they are advising Americans to take preventative measures to stop the spread of the disease. This includes avoiding direct contact to wild birds and unprotected contact to poultry.
The statement said that this applies to all settings including wildlife and workplaces, as well as to households with backyard birds or pets birds.
Although human infections are uncommon, the CDC warns that it is possible for the virus to spread through the air.
Bird flu symptoms in humans can range from mild flu-like symptoms and eye reddening to pneumonia and difficulty breathing. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there were only 868 cases in which birds transmitted flu from humans between 2003 and 2022. This resulted in 456 deaths.
Only one case of the current outbreak in the US has been reported. It was a Colorado resident who was exposed to poultry. According to the CDC, the person experienced fatigue for a few weeks and then recovered.
Rising prices for turkey and eggs due to avian influenza caused the deaths of poultry. American Farm Bureau, an American-based lobbying and insurance company, stated that the cost of traditional Thanksgiving turkey has risen 21% in the past year. It now costs nearly $29 (PS24.05 for a 16-pound (7.5kg), bird).
Record-breaking avian flu outbreaks have been reported in the UK, Europe, and parts of Africa and Asia.
According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, the outbreaks are caused by international trade, farming practices, and migratory wildbirds. According to the organization, more than 4.6 million birds were killed or culled in the period between mid-October – mid-November.
Concerns over the outbreak led to officials in England ordering that all birds and poultry be kept indoors starting 7 November because of safety concerns.
Similar measures were in place in Northern Ireland on Monday. They will be implemented in Wales starting on December 2.