How Flu’s Mutations Threaten Birds, Pigs and Humans

Jason Gale Jun 02 2021, 12:10 PM Jun 02 2021, 4:30 PM (Bloomberg) — New strains of influenza are constantly emerging. Although the virus is associated with winter flu epidemics in people, wild migratory birds are its main target — and are responsible for much of its global distribution. From them it may jump into mammals, especially pigs, wh

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Demand for eggs bounces back amid 2nd Covid wave

The demand for eggs, which had fallen during January-February due to the bird flu outbreak, has bounced back with rise in consumption of key poultry commodity, according to government officials.

eggs | Coronavirus

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi Last Updated at June 2, 2021 15:55 ISTFollow us on  eggsPhoto: Shutterstock

The demand for eggs, which had fallen during January-February due to the bird flu outbreak, has bounced back with rise in consumption of key poultry commodity to boost immunity amid the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to government officials and industry experts.

The revival in demand amid tight supplies after bird flu outbreak and a sharp rise in poultry feed cost have led to an increase in retail prices to Rs 6-7 per egg depending on the areas.

But farm gate rates have not gone up commensurate to rise in input cost, affecting farmers, they said.

Egg is among the protein-rich foods prescribed for COVID-19 patients and is the cheapest source of protein available to people, experts said.

“There is a trend in increase in consumption of eggs in the last few months. Egg has the highest 11 per cent protein content,” O P Chaudhary, Joint Secretary in the Animal Husbandry, Poultry and Dairy Ministry, told PTI.

Another official in the ministry said it is difficult to estimate a monthly rise in egg consumption.

However, he said India’s annual consumption has increased to 86 eggs per person in 2019-20 from 79 eggs per person in the previous year.

Indian Broiler Group Managing Director Gulrej Alam said the poultry industry was impacted badly during April-May 2020 last year due to the lockdown as demand for both eggs and chicken declined.

However, he said demand revived between June and December last year.

Alam said the demand got again impacted in January-February this year due to bird flu outbreak. In June 2020, monthly consumption stood at average 7 eggs per person, which fell to 4 eggs per person due to bird flu scare.

“After March, the demand has bounced back to average 7 eggs per person as demand for eggs as immunity booster caught the minds of people during the second wave of the pandemic,” he said.

The demand for eggs is more in urban areas when compared with rural areas. When the urban demand rises, prices automatically go up, said Praveen Garg, Zonal Chairman at National Egg Coordination Committee.

“Egg is still the cheapest source of protein today. At a retail price of Rs 7 per egg, you are getting 11 per cent protein. In no other source of protein, you will get this much protein at just Rs 7. Therefore, there is good demand for egg,” said Prasanna Pedgaonkar, general manager of poultry-focused Venky’s.

The supply of eggs is tight as poultry farms are not operating at their full capacity in many parts of the country after bird flu early this year, covid-induced restrictions and other reasons like rising feed cost, he added.

As per the government data, India’s egg production rose to 140 billion in 2019-20 from 103 billion in 2018-19. And 98 per cent of the eggs produced is consumed in the country itself.

Gurugram-based startup Eggoz cofounder Abhishek Negi said: “We have seen huge surge in demand for branded and Eggoz eggs in the past few months since the onset of second wave of covid pandemic.”

Eggoz branded business has grown by more than 100 per cent month-on-month over the past few months, he said.

“Customers are becoming increasingly aware of health and immunity boosting benefits of eggs,” Negi said.

He informed that Eggoz has launched an enriched variant called Nutraplus where two eggs can fulfill daily recommended intake of Vitamin D and B12 among other vitamins.

“An egg that used to fetch around Rs 3-3.5/piece for the farmers in the months of April, May in Haryana touched all time high of Rs 5.5 and is now trailing at Rs 4.8/piece,” Negi said.

This has provided much-needed financial boost to layer farmers in the country and will help them meet their higher cost of production due to increased prices of soya, Negi said.

Unpackaged eggs in retail are currently being sold at around 7-8 per piece in untraceable format which has increased from normal Rs 5-6 per piece, he said.

Branded eggs are sold at higher rates, around Rs 10 and above.

Eggoz has its own poultry farm in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. It also has tie ups with other poultry farms for procurement of eggs.

Russia starts mass producing world’s first COVID-19 vaccine for animals

03-May-2021Thomas Wintle


Russia is mass producing the world’s first coronavirus vaccines for animals. /VETANDLIFE.RU/Reuters

Russia has started mass producing the world’s first COVID-19 vaccines for animals, with its first batch of 17,000 doses soon set for local distribution.

The country’s agricultural watchdog, Rosselkhoznadzor, announced the achievement on Friday, saying that while the jabs would initially be used at home, foreign firms had also shown interest in them.

According to the regulator: “About 20 organizations are ready to negotiate registration and supply of the vaccine to their countries. The file for registration abroad, in particular in the European Union, is under preparation.”


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Russia, the first country to come up with the animal jab, registered the Carnivac-Cov vaccine in March 2021, after tests showed it generated antibodies against the coronavirus in dogs, cats, foxes and mink.

The county’s regulator said the inoculation would protect vulnerable species and thwart viral mutations. 

It added that companies from Germany, Greece, Poland, Austria, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, Lebanon, Iran and Argentina had inquired about purchasing the vaccine.

According to local media, production capacity is at around 3 million doses per month and is expected to increase to 5 million.

READ MORE: How do you kill 17m mink sick with a COVID-19 mutation?

The race to find such a jab became urgent following multiple reports of animals contracting the virus early on in the pandemic, with the World Health Organization expressing serious concern over the risk of transmission with other species.

Companion animals such as cats and dogs have tested positive for COVID-19, but there have also been cases in big cats in sanctuaries, gorillas in zoos, and several other mammals.

Last November, Denmark was forced to cull its population of up to 17 million mink after a mutated strain was discovered in sick animals in the country’s fur farms. 

With other countries reporting similar infection spikes among the species, concerns over the virus’s impact on the livestock industry have grown.

However, the impact of the novel coronavirus has not been as deadly for animals as diseases such as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), better known as bird flu, or African Swine Fever (ASF), the latter of which led to the deaths of around 8 million pigs. Source(s): Reuters18

Poland records largest-ever bird flu outbreak

Over six million birds have been culled in the EU’s largest poultry producer as bird flu cases top 260.MARKETS AND ECONOMICSMARKET TRENDSBIOSECURITYAVIAN INFLUENZADISEASESHEALTH & DISEASEby The Poultry Site3 May 2021, at 8:33am

Poland is currently contending with 262 outbreaks of bird flu, the country’s highest recorded number of infections. Reporting from Notes from Poland explains that over six million birds have been culled to stem the spread of the disease. Though poultry farmers can claim compensation for their losses, the hit to the country’s poultry industry, which produces 20% of the EU’s poultry meat, has been immense.

Animal health authorities believe that the outbreaks are due to the high concentration of poultry farms in certain locations. Poland’s chief veterinarian is calling on the government to update regulations to ensure greater biosecurity measures and that there is sufficient space between poultry farms.

“This is the first time we are facing such a great crisis,” Andrzej Danielak, from the Polish Association of Poultry Breeders and Producers said. “Until now, 65 outbreaks was the largest [annual] number, and here we have already exceeded 200.”

Prices for eggs and poultry meat in Poland have already increased 65% since November, and many economists expect the price hikes to continue. However, there could be some relief as the weather becomes warmer.

Read more about this story in Notes from Poland.

Why COVID-19 should change our stance on animal farming

By Jenny Henry & Darlene Levecque | Opinion | April 28th 2021

Meat, dairy and egg production in Canada involves forcing thousands of animals to live in filthy conditions. By any epidemiological standard, this is a disaster waiting to happen, write Jenny Henry and Darlene Levecque. Photo by Mercy for Animals Canada

As Canadians venture beyond the one-year mark since the official declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, we do so with much reflection and lessons learned. We now look very differently at issues of public health, personal hygiene and even travel. However, one area that appears to be lacking the mass scrutiny and worry it deserves, especially in the wake of a pandemic caused by a zoonotic disease, is our food system, particularly how we breed, confine and slaughter animals.

It is likely that COVID-19 emerged in much the same way as bird flu, swine flu, Ebola and mad cow disease: from food markets and factory farms. Farmed and caged animals create the perfect breeding environment for zoonotic diseases, and not just in other countries. Canadians need to be much more concerned about the potential for future pandemics stemming from our own food system.

The environmental impacts of raising animals for food have been made abundantly clear in recent years. Animal agriculture is wiping out rainforests, causing mass extinction of species, polluting our air and waterways, and bringing us dangerously close to causing irreversible changes to the Earth’s climate systems. And now it appears that if global warming doesn’t get us, a zoonotic disease just might.


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Meat, dairy and egg production in Canada involves packing thousands of animals together in massive sheds, forcing them to live in filthy conditions, filling man-made lagoons with animal waste and making staff work in dangerously close contact with animals and each other. By any epidemiological standard, this is a disaster waiting to happen. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that “three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals.”

Federal and provincial governments in Canada help fund meat, dairy and egg production to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars each year through subsidies, grants and loans. In 2019, for example, the federal government began doling out $1.75 billion over eight years to nearly 11,000 dairy farmers across Canada to compensate for market losses, while also providing up to $10 million in grants for selected dairy processors via the Dairy Processing Investment Fund. The Canadian government also announced in 2019 a $6-million investment to help promote pork exports and, last year, a $691-million gift to egg and chicken farmers. And this is all before receiving government aid for pandemic-related market disruptions. That’s a lot of taxpayer money being distributed to a food system that poses tremendous risk to the health and home of Canadians.

The government has invested some money into safer and healthier plant protein production over the last couple of years, providing nearly $100 million to Winnipeg-based Merit Functional Foods, which produces plant-based protein from Canadian peas and canola. Alberta-based Food Processing Development Centre is also receiving $2.6 million of federal funding to “support the installation of equipment specifically focused on supporting companies to develop new plant-based foods and products,” according to a Western Economic Diversification Canada statement. But this is just not enough to fund a full transition to safer food production that we so urgently need.

For so long, the animal agriculture industry — including lobby groups such as Dairy Farmers of CanadaChicken Farmers of Canada and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association — has played a huge role in shaping federal agricultural policy, spending millions of dollars on lobbying efforts each year.

As a non-partisan advocacy group, Nation Rising is trying to level that playing field by lobbying governments to shift multibillion-dollar subsidies away from animal agriculture and towards the creation of a more sustainable, plant-based food system. We are also working to educate and empower the public to meet with their own MPs and demand change.

Canada cannot continue breeding, confining and killing animals for food on the scale that we do, and the government should not be continuing to fund it. Aside from the mass suffering of animals, the environmental degradation and noted health concerns associated with consuming animal products, we now know of the major risks that factory farming can pose to public health.

Canadian governments should be helping animal farmers transition to safer plant-based food production, write @vegan_bumblebee and @LevecqueDarlene of @NationRising.

Canadian governments should look to initiatives being led in the U.S. and Europe, such as Transfarmation, by international advocacy group Mercy For Animals, The Vegan Society’s Grow Green campaign and ReFarm’d for examples on how to help animal farmers transition to safer plant-based food production.

We’ve reached a precipice. If Canadian governments and industries don’t start planning for a fundamental shift toward more sustainable and less harmful food production, we might not last another hundred years.

Jenny Henry and Darlene Levecque are co-founders of Nation Rising, a non-partisan political advocacy group lobbying the federal government to shift subsidies away from animal agriculture and towards the creation of a plant-based food system.April 28th 2021

Keep reading

Plant-based diets critical to wildlife preservation: report

By Damian Carrington | News | February 5th 2021

Plants key ingredient to eating local, sustainably: researchers

By Marc Fawcett-Atkinson | NewsFood Insider | January 27th 2021Food Insider

Plant-based meats are on the rise. But are they sustainable?

By Marc Fawcett-Atkinson | NewsFood Insider | December 3rd 2020Food Insider

A new bird flu jumps to humans. So far, it’s not a problem.

April 21, 2021 at 1:00 pm Updated April 21, 2021 at 1:01 pm  By JAMES GORMANThe New York Times

When a bird flu virus struck a major poultry farm in Russia earlier this year, it was a reminder that the coronavirus causing the pandemic was not the only dangerous virus out there.

The authorities quickly tested the birds and moved into high gear, killing 800,000 chickens, disposing of the carcasses and cleaning the farm to stop the potential spread to other chicken farms. But they were also concerned for humans.

They tested the birds and sequenced the virus, determining that it was the H5N8 strain of avian flu, highly dangerous to both wild and domestic birds. It is established in Asia and has been increasingly causing deadly outbreaks in birds in Europe. H5N8 viruses have infected some poultry flocks in the United States, but the viruses come from a different though related lineage of virus, distinct from the current H5N8 viruses in Asia and Europe. Flu viruses combine and mutate frequently in unpredictable ways.

In the short period from Dec. 25 to Jan. 14, more than 7 million birds were lost to H5N8 outbreaks in Europe and Asia. Europe alone had 135 outbreaks among poultry and 35 among wild birds. Of course, to put the numbers in context, humans consume about 65 billion chickens each year, and one estimate puts the number of chickens on the globe at any one time at 23 billion.

As damaging as H5N8 has been to birds, it had never infected people. Until February. Russian health authorities also tested about 200 of the people involved in the cleanup of the farm in Astrakhan, using nasal swabs and later blood tests for antibodies. They reported that for the first time, H5N8 had jumped to people. Seven of the workers appeared to have been infected with the virus, although none of them became ill. Only one of those seven cases, however, was confirmed by genetically sequencing the virus.

Nonetheless, the potential danger of the new virus and its jump to humans set off alarm bells for Dr. Daniel R. Lucey, a physician and a specialist in pandemics at Georgetown University.ADVERTISINGSkip AdSkip AdSkip Ad

He began writing about the Astrakhan event in a blog for other infectious disease experts as soon as it was publicized. He reported that during a television interview, a Russian public health official said the H5N8 virus was likely to evolve into human-to-human transmission. That possibility was frightening.

“The WHO finally put out a report Feb. 26,” he said.

But it did not frame the event as particularly alarming because the virus was not causing human disease, and the report judged the risk of human-to-human transmission as low, despite the Russian official’s comment.

To Lucey, no one else seemed to be taking the infection of humans with H5N8 as “of any concern.” He added, “I think it’s of concern.”

Other scientists said they were not as worried.

Dr. Florian Krammer, a flu researcher at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said he was more concerned about other avian flu viruses like H5N1 that have already shown themselves to be dangerous to people. Another avian influenza virus, H7N9, infected people for the first time in 2013. There have been more than 1,500 confirmed cases and more than 600 deaths since then. Since 2017 there have been only three confirmed cases, and the virus does not jump easily from person to person.

It is always possible that any virus can evolve human-to-human transmission, as well as become more dangerous. But H5N8 would have both hurdles to jump. Compared to other viral threats, Krammer said, “I’m not worried.”

Dr. Richard J. Webby, a flu specialist at the St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and director of the WHO’s Collaborating Centre for Studies on the Ecology of Influenza in Animals and Birds, said that all of the H5 viruses are of concern because some of them have infected and killed people. But, he said, “They all have the same sort of binding capacity to human cells, which is limited,” he said. Flu viruses use a slightly different way to attach to cells in birds than to cells in humans and being good at one usually means not being good at the other.ADVERTISINGSkip Ad

Webby also said that while seven infections would certainly be of concern, only one infection has been confirmed. The tests of the other six involved nasal swabs and blood antibody tests. In people with no symptoms, he said, nasal swabs can simply indicate that they had breathed in virus. That would not mean it had infected them.

Blood antibody tests also have a potential for error, he said, and may not be able to distinguish exposure to one flu virus from another.

Nor did he see any scientific basis for suggesting that H5N8 is more likely than any other bird flu to evolve human-to-human transmission. But any virus could evolve that ability.

Lucey said he was heartened to see that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had prepared a candidate vaccine for H5N8 before it had infected humans. Candidate vaccines are simply first steps in planning for potential problems, and have not been through any testing. They exist for many viruses.

“Humans should be routinely tested those for the virus, right at the time of the outbreak in birds,” Lucey said.

He favors the protocol followed in Astrakhan and argues that for any outbreak among birds, public health authorities should test people who are exposed to sick birds with nasopharyngeal swabs and an antibody test, followed by other antibody tests a few weeks later.

An upcoming editorial in the journal Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease also takes up the Astrakhan incident and calls for increased monitoring of all H5 viruses.This story was originally published at Read it here.

Flock of flamingos finally taste freedom after four months in bird flu ‘lockdown’

  • Watch the moment the flamingos are released.

A flock of flamingos at a zoo in Cumbria have had their first taste of freedom after being kept inside for four months.

The 37 ‘Greater Flamingos’ at the Lake District Wildlife Park near Bassenthwaite were released after being cooped up since November, because of the threat of bird flu.

Since December last year, poultry keepers have been asked to keep their birds indoors to protect them against the virus, after a cases emerged across the UK.

The flamingos were allowed out of their indoor enclosure on Thursday morning, with one excited bird paving the way for others to join him in the park’s pond for the first bath in months.

Head keeper Richard Robinson said: “It’s fantastic. As part of my job I have the daily care of the flamingos.

“Having them shut in since mid-November, it was time they came out so thankfully, with the easing of the restrictions for the avian influenza, we were able to let them out today and it’s fantastic seeing them enjoy a bit of blue sky.”

The park is now gearing up to re-open to visitors later this month.

World’s 1st case of human infection with bird flu in Russia

Russia has confirmed the first case of human infection with the avian influenza A(H5N8) virus in the world, a Russian sanitary official announced on Saturday

Photo Courtesy: IANS
Photo Courtesy: IANS


Published: 21 Feb 2021, 10:30 AMEngagement: 653

Russia has confirmed the first case of human infection with the avian influenza A(H5N8) virus in the world, a Russian sanitary official announced on Saturday.

Scientists have isolated the genetic material of this bird flu virus in seven workers of a poultry farm in south Russia, where an outbreak among fowls was reported in December, said Anna Popova, head of the country’s consumer rights and human well-being watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, the Xinhua news agency reported.

All the necessary measures were taken immediately to protect humans and animals, and the infection did not spread further, she told a briefing.

All of the seven people who were infected are now feeling well, with only mild clinical symptoms, Popova said.

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Scientists say an apocalyptic bird flu could wipe out half of humanity

By Paula Froelich

Apocalyptic bird flu could wipe out half of humanity: scientists (

May 30, 2020 | 11:54am | UpdatedEnlarge Image

Chickens roost at a poultry farm in Taizhou, China.

Chickens roost at a poultry farm in Taizhou, China.Getty Images

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The coronavirus has killed over 365,000 people worldwide in just five months — but that’s nothing compared to what could be coming if humans don’t clean up their act when it comes to chickens.

In his new book, “How to Survive a Pandemic,” Dr. Michael Gregor, a scientist and physician who once testified for Oprah Winfrey in her “meat defamation” trial, warns that an apocalyptic virus emanating from overcrowded and unsanitary chicken farms has the potential to wipe out half of humanity.

Greger, a vegan, writes that “In the ‘hurricane scale’ of epidemics, COVID-19, with a death rate of around half of one percent, rates a measly Category Two, possibly a Three. … The Big One, the typhoon to end all typhoons, will be 100 times worse when it comes, a Category Five producing a fatality rate of one in two. … Civilization as we know it would cease.”

While environmentalists warned earlier this month that the world would face another stronger epidemic if we continue to have contact with wildlife, Gregor places the blame squarely on chickens.

“With pandemics explosively spreading a virus from human to human, it’s never a matter of if, but when,” Greger writes.

Citing the bird-based Spanish Flu outbreak of 1920, and the H5N1 outbreak in Hong Kong in 1997, Gregor writes, “the worry is that the virus never stands still but is always mutating. … This is the monster lurking in the undergrowth, the one that makes epidemiologists shudder.”


Scientists warn of deadlier future pandemics if we don’t stop this now

The Hong Kong outbreak, which originated in a bird market, “started with a three-year-old boy in Hong Kong, whose sore throat and tummy ache turned into a disease that curdled his blood and killed him within a week from acute respiratory and organ failure.” While only 18 people contracted that flu – a third of them died.

During that pandemic, the government killed 1.3 million chickens in an attempt to eliminate the virus – but there have since been two more outbreaks between 2003 and 2009 outside of China.

But with over 24 billion chickens on earth feeding the world, what can be done?

Gregor writes we have to change the entire system – away from large scale farms where chickens are fed antibiotics and are crammed together and pass diseases from one to another easily to smaller, free-range farms … and eventually not eating chickens or ducks at all.

“The pandemic cycle could theoretically be broken for good,” he writes. “Bird flu could be grounded.”

But until then, he warns, “as long as there is poultry, there will be pandemics. In the end, it may be us or them.”

Russia warns of human-to-human transmission of new bird flu mutation

Montana State News Bureau

By Yaron Steinbuch

March 12, 2021 | 12:25pm | UpdatedVideo Player is loading. 




Russian farmworkers first humans to contract new form of bird flu

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A mutating strain of bird flu that has emerged in Russia has “a fairly high degree of probability” of human-to-human transmission, the head of the country’s health watchdog warned in a report.

Anna Popova, who heads Rospotrebnadzor, made the worrying prediction almost a month after scientists detected the first case of H5N8 transmission to humans at a southern Russia poultry farm, the Moscow Times reported.

Humans can get infected with other bird and swine flu subtypes, but the H5N8 strain — which is lethal for birds — has never previously been reported to have spread among people.

“This is likely to happen. Colleagues say that the mutation is continuing very actively,” Popova said, adding that Rospotrebnadzor and the Siberia-based Vektor state research lab have time to develop a test kit and a vaccine, and then to “monitor the situation.”

“If we won’t need it, it’ll be a lucky break. But if necessary, we’ll be ready,” Russia’s chief sanitary doctor told Russian news agency TASS.

Russian Chief Sanitary Physician Anna Popova
Russian chief sanitary physician Anna Popova says a spread of the strain among humans is “likely to happen.”

“In other words, we’ll be able to warn the entire world community of the threat.”

Last month, Popova reported the first case of the H5N8 strain passing to humans from birds to the World Health Organization, according to Reuters.

bird flu Russia
The H5N8 strain, which is lethal for birds, has never previously been reported to have spread among people.

In addition to Russia and Europe, outbreaks of H5N8 have been reported in recent months in China, the Middle East and North Africa — but so far only in poultry.

Other strains of avian flu, such as H5N1, H7N9 and H9N2, have been known to spread to humans.

bird Russia
Outbreaks of H5N8 have been reported in recent months in China, the Middle East and North Africa.

Seven workers at a Russian poultry plant had been infected with the H5N8 mutation in an outbreak at the plant in December, Popova said, adding that everyone quickly recovered.

“This situation did not develop further,” she said in late February.