The flu season is approaching, meaning opportunities to get a shot are arriving quickly. A pediatrics professor at the University of Wisconsin said there's a reason the push for the flu vaccine is during the fall.
Ring-necked pheasant
Avian influenza has been in the news quite a bit over the last year, including around Wisconsin. While much of this coverage has focused on the farms that saw outbreaks and its effects on consumers' pocketbooks, comparatively little attention has been given to the costs experienced by other poultry enterprises.
A poultry barn floor covered by young chickens
As a highly contagious avian influenza virus spread through the U.S.'s poultry population in 2015, something else began catching on: the word "depopulation."
Chicks on chicken genome diagram
Many state and federal agencies deal with avian influenza and its effect on agriculture, the economy and human health, and have developed a series of resources and guides addressing the disease and both the latest news and research about it. Additionally, the 2015 epidemic was the subject of coverage by trade and public media outlets in the affected states and elsewhere.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack
While many in the poultry industry have defended their existing biosecurity practices in the wake of the epidemic, many also say it has highlighted some crucial weaknesses. Most of them have to do with the opportunities humans unwittingly create for the virus to spread from farm to farm.
American consumers have experienced the 2015 avian influenza epidemic primarily in the form of higher egg prices. Average consumer egg prices went up as much as 25 percent between July 2014 and July 2015, according to the Consumer Price Index.
Behold, turkeys
Wisconsin has a moderately large poultry industry, though it is much smaller than in the neighboring states of Iowa and Minnesota. Overall, there were more than 19,900 flocks in Wisconsin as of September 2015, as registered by the Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium.
farm truck decontamination
The avian influenza epidemic of 2015 required a cooperative effort between state and federal agricultural officials and the poultry industry. Wisconsin's Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection worked with affected farms to confirm the presence of H5N2 and drew on its own expertise and personnel, as well as those of federal agencies and ag-industry partners to coordinate a response.
Government agencies offer a suite of biosecurity recommendations about avian influenza for both commercial poultry operations and people who keep backyard flocks, as well as settings like fairs, trade shows and other agricultural exhibitions.
Flock of ducks
Wild birds, particularly migratory waterfowl, can contract and transmit both low and highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service with the U.S. Department of Agriculture encourages hunters and other persons engaging in outdoor recreation to help track the avian flu.