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Urgent call for tighter farm security amid bird flu spread


The threat of avian influenza is escalating in the United States, affecting an increasingly diverse array of animal species. This alarming trend has led to the culling of approximately 8.7 million birds from commercial and backyard flocks within the last 30 days, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This drastic measure aims to halt the spread of the virus, which has also been found in dairy cattle and sporadically in humans.

The virus, typically carried by migratory birds, has been detected in smaller bird species like pigeons and starlings, which often reside in barns. David Marks from the USDA highlighted this concern at a recent poultry industry event, noting the unusual transmission patterns observed.

Public health officials, including Dr. Jeremy Farrar from the World Health Organization, have expressed concerns that the increasing infection among mammals could lead to mutations making the virus more infectious to humans. In response, biosecurity measures on farms have been intensified. Techniques to scare away birds, like using lasers and mesh coverings over water bodies, are among the strategies employed.

Farmers are also urged to inspect their premises thoroughly for any structural weaknesses that might allow birds or mammals to enter. Repairing these vulnerabilities and securing areas like waste disposal are crucial steps in preventing the spread of the disease.

This situation underscores the need for vigilant biosecurity practices to safeguard the health of both livestock and the wider community.

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