Dear Senator Thomas Carper: We can’t bring our A game to contain this outbreak and save this industry if we don’t acknowledge that its root cause is climate change.
Rising sea levels, melting glaciers, more intense rainstorms and more frequent heat waves are among the planetary woes that may come to mind when climate change is mentioned. Now, researchers say an increased risk of avian influenza transmission in wild birds can be added to the list.
…bird-migration patterns have been affected in recent years by climate change, bringing viruses from different parts of world into contact and causing them to mutate.
Climate change-caused disruptions to the well-timed interplay between the birds and crabs could lead to an increase in the avian influenza infection rate among ruddy turnstones and resident ducks of Delaware Bay, the researchers found.
Delaware Bay, which hosts many resident bird species as well as the hundreds of thousands of migratory birds that gather to feed on horseshoe crab eggs, is known as a hot spot for avian influenza virus. Infection levels in ruddy turnstones, which stop at Delaware Bay each May during their northbound migration to breeding grounds in the Arctic after wintering in South America, have been found to be exceptionally high.
Brown and Rohani wondered what would happen to influenza levels in Delaware Bay birds if climate change altered the timing of the ruddy turnstone’s migratory flight to Delaware Bay or affected the timing of horseshoe crab spawning.
The researchers found that if ruddy turnstones reached Delaware Bay either several weeks earlier or later than their current May arrival date, influenza infection rates in the species increased significantly, driving up the infection rates—also called prevalence levels—in the resident ducks as well.
…the production model in the commercial poultry industry is a prime target for these types of outbreaks and must be changed to take into account that the birds grown are embedded into an ecology. –
another key to preventing such outbreaks is through the restoration of wetlands, which would help keep infected wild birds from intermingling with commercial poultry flocks.
“Today, we are facing the largest animal health emergency in this country’s history. People have lost their jobs and have seen their livelihoods put in danger, and our hearts go out to them.”
…232 poultry facilities, forcing the killing of 7.5 million turkeys and 42 million chickens, including roughly 10 percent of the nation’s egg-laying population.
“My flock of 200,000 egg hens has been reduced to zero in the face of the AI outbreak,” said Scott Schneider, owner of Nature Link Farms in Lake Mills and president of the Wisconsin Poultry and Egg Industries Association. “My short-term prospects have been grim, and the middle- and long-term prospects are challenging, especially in the face of future AI threats.”
“Now we’re importing some shell eggs here from other countries. What’s wrong with that picture?”
…other countries have imposed partial or full bans on U.S. poultry, which affects Delaware…
…the risk of another outbreak is “significant” when birds begin to migrate again this fall.