The Experts in Animal Health

You may have noticed that this year’s Thanksgiving turkeys were generally smaller, but more expensive, than last year.  Farm Bureau’s annual survey found that the cost of a turkey was up 21% over 2021, while the cost for other food was up around 12%; the USDA’s estimate of the increase in turkey prices was even higher. While some of that is undoubtedly general inflationary pressure, avian influenza has also impacted the turkey supply. According to one source, around 7.3 million turkeys died as of Thanksgiving as a result of the current avian influenza outbreak.

The current avian influenza outbreak in the US is the worst on record, and many other parts of the world are struggling with it too. In addition, African swine fever is an ongoing issue outside of the US. Controlling these pandemics can be challenging, as many diseases are spread to livestock production facilities by wild animals carrying the viruses.  Efforts are underway to develop effective vaccines that can be differentiated from wild-type infection on diagnostic tests, but it’s been a bumpy road.

Much of the focus on the animal health side of One Health initiatives has been on zoonotic diseases, but animal diseases that don’t cause pandemic-level illness in humans can have an impact our food supply. I hope that R&D dollars reflect this reality, and that our industry can keep pace with the challenges on the contagious disease front.

Lynn Fondon

en_USEnglish (United States)