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Are you noticing higher egg prices? This disease could be to blame

Eggs Generic Breakfast
Posted at 6:08 PM, Apr 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-19 18:08:24-04

PETERSBURG, Va. -- For now, the impact on restaurants is limited, but should the current outbreak of avian influenza continue to worse, local restaurateurs who rely on eggs could begin to feel the squeeze of yet another challenge.

To date, more than 28 million domesticated poultry have been impacted by the current outbreak. Experts worry the situation might become worse than the 2015 bird flu outbreak when more than 50 million birds died.

The effects of the outbreak have already hit grocery shelves and suppliers. The USDA said the price for a dozen eggs has doubled since March.

“The egg is probably one of our most important items,” said David Hayes with the Dixie Restaurant in Petersburg. “So, we’ll go through probably 600 to 1,000 per week. The costs we can eat, and still have our products available, but if you can’t get the product you can’t serve the customer."

Dr. Charlie Broaddus, the State Veterinarian for Virginia, said they have been in contact with commercial poultry farmers and backyard flock owners about the outbreak to make sure they are taking the proper biosecurity measures to limit the spread of the virus. Wild birds are believed to spread it to poultry.

“Agriculture is the biggest industry in Virginia, in terms of economic impact, and poultry is the biggest sector of the agriculture industry in Virginia,” Dr. Broaddus said. “Try to take all the measures they can to prevent exposure of their poultry, their chickens or turkeys or ducks, to wild waterfowl. Wild waterfowl are known to be carriers of the virus. If there are any interactions with those birds or with the droppings of those birds, that can cause disease.”

“We also take time to remind them. It doesn’t affect human health; it doesn’t affect the meat. Consumption of poultry there is no risk whatsoever.” Dr. Broaddus said.

To date, the only poultry outbreak in Virginia was a backyard flock in Fauquier County in late February.

At the Olde Towne Alibi restaurant in Petersburg, owner Kathleen McCay said they also go through eggs. One of the most popular dishes on their appetizer menu is a fried deviled egg.

While shoppers might be taking the hit at the store, for now, McCay said restaurants have to consider what future markets might hold should the outbreak continue to worsen.

“[Eggs] are always in something; they’re always used for something,” McCay said. “In these times, there’s already the lack of availability for so many products that the thought of having to seek out and fight for one more item seems overwhelming and exhausting.”

Dr. Broaddus said one piece of good news is the warmer weather of spring. Like human influenza, bird flu more easily spreads among the population during colder months.

If you happen upon a dead bird, wild or not, right now, there are some steps you should take. Find that info here.

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