Midwest bird flu outbreak driving up egg prices

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(WSFA) The next time you reach for a carton of eggs or order that favorite breakfast sandwich, get ready for a case of sticker shock.

Egg prices are on the rise because of a widespread bird flu outbreak in the Midwest, which has caused an egg shortage.

Andi Manning has a family to feed, and like many, eggs are as common as milk and bread in her household, “We eat eggs for breakfast; we eat eggs in our eggs and cupcakes,” Manning said.

Andi and her family could soon be shelling out more than $3 or $4 for a once 99 cent dozen of eggs.

“If the flu or whatever is not in this area I don’t understand why it should affect us,” Manning said.Alabama State Veterinarian Tony Frazier says one out of every five eggs come from Midwest states like Iowa, where Avian Bird Flu has severely depleted what agriculture specialists call “layers.”

“41.1 million layers, that lay the eggs and pullets have been depopulated in the Midwest because of the bird flu that represents nearly 10 percent of the U.S. layer inventory,” Frazier said.

While supply and demand have left consumers scrambling, Frazier says the meat and eggs are safe.

“This is a chicken to chicken virus. The meat is safe, the poultry meat that we have in Alabama is the safest most wholesome, reasonable, protein source you can get. The eggs are the same way,” Frazier said.

Frazier says this outbreak of Avian Influenza is the worst the country has seen in a long time, prompting his office to develop an emergency response plan to safeguard Alabama’s poultry, working closely with agencies like the USDA, EMA and the health department.

“We can’t cast an impermeable covering over the state that keeps migratory birds from coming in and out of the state so we have to be aware of that. That’s where we really want to emphasize bio security,” Frazier said.

Frazier explains that bio security means avoiding cross contamination. For example, if you’re duck hunting, remove dirty shoes and clothes before entering a chicken coop.

“We think somewhere along the way some migratory birds were shedding the virus in their droppings, fecal material and it made its way, somehow cross the species from the wild birds to domestic turkeys and chickens,” Frazier said.

Experts believe it will take at least two years for the country’s chicken population to bounce back.

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