Bird flu found at plant run by largest egg producer in U.S.


Production has stopped temporarily at a plant run by the country’s largest producer of eggs after chickens tested positive for bird flu.

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The facility is in Texas and is run by Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. which is based in Mississippi, The Associated Press reported.

About 1.6 million egg-laying hens and 337,000 pullets, or hens under the age of one that haven’t yet laid eggs, have been euthanized after avian influenza was found at the Parmer County, Texas, location. The hens and pullets account for about 3.6% of the flock, the AP reported.

Cal-Maine sells most of its eggs in the Southwestern, Southeastern, Midwestern and mid-Atlantic areas of the country.

No eggs have been recalled because of the outbreak.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said that if eggs are properly handled and cooked, they are safe.

The Washington Post reported that avian influenza, known as HPAI, is caused by influenza A viruses and can be spread quickly among both wild and domesticated birds.

The first bird flu infection in U.S. livestock was found in March when a young goat tested positive. The goat lives on a farm that had chickens that also tested positive.

Dairy cows in Texas and Kansas have also tested positive with presumptive cattle cases in Idaho and New Mexico as well, the Post reported.

A farmer also tested positive after coming into contact with a cow that is presumed to have had the virus. The person only had eye inflammation and is being treated with antiviral drugs, Texas health officials said.

Other symptoms of avian flu include:

  • Fever (temperature of 100°F or greater) or feeling feverish or chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Eye redness (conjunctivitis)
  • Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
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