Hello again dear readers! After a short holiday break, we are back with our usual weekly blogposts. We thought that this example of an animal disease affecting our lives would be a great topic to kickstart 2023. Enjoy!
How did it start?
The Avian Flu outbreak began in the United States in January 2022 when a strain of the virus, specifically, H5N1 spread through wild and domestic birds. In the United States, the outbreak advanced rapidly due to a combination of factors. First, the virus had a high mutation rate, and it is highly contagious which allowed it to spread, very quickly, to several bird species. Finally, the virus was widespread in the poultry industry, with many birds already infected before the outbreak was detected
As the virus spread, it mutated further and became more infectious (meaning that it could jump more easily between exposed organisms), leading to an increase in cases, especially within poultry farms. All these factors combined to create an environment in which the virus could spread quickly and widely, resulting in a major outbreak leading to the death of millions of chickens and turkeys due to the infection. In an effort to contain the virus, many poultry farms were forced to shut down temporarily, reducing their production levels significantly, and in many cases culling their animals. This, in addition to increasing costs of fuel, feed, and packaging, has caused a shortage of eggs, as well as an upsurge in prices.
The price of eggs has gone up considerably since the start of 2021. According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), wholesale egg prices rose by nearly 60% during this period. Retail egg prices have also seen an increase, with some stores charging as much as $3 per dozen for large eggs—a sharp rise from the average price of around $1-2 before the outbreak began.
It is difficult to predict exactly when egg prices will return to normal levels, but experts believe that it could take anywhere from 6-12 months before supply and demand are back in balance again. Until then, consumers should expect higher than usual egg prices—and be prepared for even more volatility depending on how quickly poultry farmers can get their operations back up and running again safely.