A poultry farm in Colorado will cull approximately 1.8 million chickens after bird flu was detected at the Weld County egg-laying operation.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, declared the bird flu outbreak an ’emergency.’


The Colorado Sun reports:

Nearly 1.8 million chickens will be killed after bird flu was detected at an egg-laying operation in Weld County, a major resurgence on a commercial farm of the disease that has already seen more than 6 million birds culled.

Gov. Jared Polis verbally declared a disaster declaration for the facility over the long holiday weekend. The move activates the state’s emergency operations plan and makes additional resources available to respond to the outbreak.

A spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Agriculture declined to name the facility.

The mass culling — or “depopulation,” as the state described it — is the second-largest in a commercial flock since bird flu was first detected in Colorado in early 2002. In June 2022, an outbreak at a commercial poultry facility, also in Weld County, resulted in more than 1.9 million birds being culled.

The strain of bird flu, also known as highly pathogenic avian influenza, is the same as the one currently circulating through Colorado dairy herds. But the infections in cattle have rarely been fatal.

“Federal avian flu protocol dictates that all birds in a flock have to be humanely put down if a single case of the highly contagious virus is detected among it. In this particular outbreak, all 1.78 million chickens at the Weld County farm will have to be killed to prevent any further spread,” according to Colorado Public Radio.

From Colorado Public Radio:

The latest outbreak comes as national concerns around the avian flu reach new heights. In spring, federal officials began detecting the presence of avian flu within domestic cattle herds across the nation. Currently, Colorado is reporting more cases among dairy cows than any other state, according to federal data. Unlike birds, however, cattle typically survive infection after a period of symptoms and producers are not required to destroy infected animals.

Avian flu’s jump from birds to cattle has health officials concerned about how the virus could continue to mutate and spread. The virus has already shown it has the capacity to spread to humans. Last week, the state health department said an employee of a dairy farm contracted avian flu from animals on site.

The infected man showed mild symptoms and was prescribed an antiviral treatment. Federal and state officials maintain that the risk to humans is still low, and that pasteurized milk products and beef are safe to consume. Those who come into close contact with cattle and birds are encouraged to take several precautions, including wearing personal protective gear when around animals.

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