Avian Flu & the Poultry Industry

Jun 22, 2015

You may have noticed that your eggs cost a little more than they did a few weeks back. Those higher prices are associated with the Avian Flu outbreak that's moving from the Midwest. But it potentially could impact a lot more than the cost of eggs.

In 2002 an Avian Flu strain devastated Virginia’s poultry industry and led to the destruction of millions of birds. With this latest strain, just ONE Midwest farm surpassed that number. Virginia State Veterinarian Richard Wilkes says Virginia experts went to assist and assess the situation.

Despite bio-security measures, the disease spreads through the feces and sporadic co-mingling of migratory birds. Predicting if, when, and where it starts in Virginia is a guessing game. Still, poultry farmers have been given their "marching orders"'
Augusta County poultry farmer Kenny Wampler raises about 100,000 chickens.  The 2002 strain hit a neighboring farm hard, and he says that’s why, he doesn’t hesitate to take precautionary measures.
Agriculture is Virginia's largest industry, and poultry its largest sector. Agriculture Secretary Todd Haymore says after the last outbreak, China and other large importers banned Virginia poultry exports. That's happening already-without a case of Avian Flu in years. It also means if this strain does hit the Commonwealth, egg prices won't be all that’s affected.
Health experts say there’s no health threat to the food supply-but cooking food to the proper temperatures is always safest. It’s remotely possible that an aggressive virus could mutate and infect other species.