The last time I checked on the pandemic of avian flu/bird flu, which has an enormously high infection fatality rate, the disease was poised to become endemic and was beginning to cross over into other species.
There have been some recent developments that are troubling. Reports show that the avian flu has hit the Northern California poultry industry hard.
In California, the outbreak has impacted more than 7 million chickens in about 40 commercial flocks and 24 backyard flocks, with most of the outbreaks occurring over the past two months on the North Coast and Central Valley, according to the USDA.
Industry officials are worried about the growing number of backyard chickens that could become infected and spread avian flu to commercial farms.
“We have wild birds that are are full of virus. And if you expose your birds to these wild birds, they might get infected and ill,” said Rodrigo Gallardo, a UC Davis researcher who studies avian influenza.
Gallardo advises the owners of backyard chickens to wear clean clothes and shoes to protect their flocks from getting infected. If an unusual number of chickens die, they should be tested for avian flu.
In terms of transmission to non-bird species, the news is grim. Over 17,000 southern elephant seal pups were found dead on Argentina’s Valdés Peninsula. The mass die-off is being blamed on the deadly H5N1 avian influenza virus.