5.5 Million More Bird Flu Cases in Iowa CAFO, Could Now Be Largest Outbreak in U.S.

Chalk this one up to another lovely side effect of our highly industrialized food system in this country.

One of five new cases of bird flu has been reported to the Iowa Department of Agriculture this week. Rembrandt Foods, one of the country’s largest suppliers of eggs, has now confirmed that 5.5 million hens in Buena Vista County are believed to have contracted avian influenza and will have to be put down. The department is running more tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Seventeen outbreaks that include at least 20 million birds have now been reported across the nation. The Rembrandt outbreak could be the single largest food supplier to be hit by the virus ever reported.

In addition, two turkey farms in the same county also appear to have become infected, but figures have not been released on how many birds have been hit at those locations.

Reuters reported:

Infections with the H5N2 strain have picked up pace in the past few weeks. Only a million birds had been infected at the beginning of April after the strain was first found in January.

Two bird flu strains have been found in the United States this year. The H5N2 strain has been reported in Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin. It has also been identified on farms in Ontario, Canada.

The H5N8 strain has been identified in California and also in Idaho, according to the Agriculture Department.

This is just one more reason why these giant, filthy, overcrowded confined animal feeding operations (or CAFOs) are a terrible way to produce the nation’s food on every basically every level imaginable (except perhaps for mega corporations who only see food in terms of maximum efficiency and bottom lines, not nutrition).

If you haven’t seen Food, Inc., now is definitely the time to learn the truth about our nation’s highly industrialized food supply. Yeah, that quaint little red barn on the front of most meat and dairy packages in your average grocery store? Nine times out of ten, it does not exist.

Not only are thousands upon thousands of animals imprisoned throughout their entire lives in unsanitary and cruel conditions where they are force fed an unnatural diet of pharmaceuticals and genetically modified crops, conditions where fighting off mass sickness among the livestock such as bird flu is the norm not the exception, but cheap, factory-farmed chickens have ultimately been found to be different nutritionally speaking.

Dr. Mercola explains:

A typical poultry CAFO measuring 490 feet by 45 feet can hold at least 30,000 chickens or more. Animal Welfare Guidelines permit a stocking density that gives each full-grown chicken an amount of space equivalent to an 8.5-inch by 11-inch piece of paper.

An example of a poultry CAFO can be seen in the video above. It’s a short clip from the film Food Inc. Sickness is the norm for animals raised in these CAFOs—the large-scale factory farms on which 99 percent of American chickens come from.

These animals are also typically fed genetically engineered (GE) corn and soybeans, which is a far cry from their natural diet of seeds, green plants, insects, and worms.

This unnatural diet further exacerbates disease promulgation. Processing byproducts such as chicken feathers and other animal parts can also be added to the feed.

To prevent the inevitable spread of disease from stress, overcrowding, lack of vitamin D (as CAFO chickens may never see the light of day), and an unnatural diet, the animals are routinely fed antibiotics (hormones, on the other hand, are not permitted in American-raised chickens).

Those antibiotics pose a direct threat to human health, and contaminate the environment when they run off into lakes, rivers, aquifers, and drinking water. According to a landmark “Antibiotic Resistance Threat Report” published by the CDC,2 two million Americans become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, and at least 23,000 of them die as a direct result of those infections.

Research suggests you have a 50/50 chance of buying meat tainted with drug-resistant bacteria when you buy it from your local grocery store. In some cases, the risk may be even greater.

Drug-resistant bacteria? If that doesn’t sound disgusting enough, Mercola continues, “the factory feeding model also involves the mixing of animal parts (in this case, blood) from a large number of animals, which is then fed to large numbers of animals—the meat from which in turn are again mixed together in large processing plants, before it’s ultimately sold in grocery stores across the nation.”

Mmm. Tasty.

Note, officials are saying that there is no food safety risk from this avian flu outbreak and the risk to humans for contracting the disease itself is relatively low, as no bird flu infections in humans have ever been officially reported.

However… some 90 percent of the nation’s chicken and eggs come from CAFO sources like this. This is the food that people are consuming in this country for their nutrition. Food that lived its entire existence in what amounts to little more than an animal concentration camp: a dark, dirty place where they are drugged up and live torturous lives until they are slaughtered.

It’s not bleeding heart to talk this way. It’s just reality. When you and your family eat the products of a CAFO lot, you are eating drugged up, tortured animals fed an unnatural, genetically modified, straight up cannibalistic diet and taking a 50/50 chance your food is tainted with dangerous, drug-resistant bacteria.

Sounds more like the plot of a bad horror movie than dinner, doesn’t it?

And that’s before we even get into the impact these places have on the planet.

When it comes to what we eat in this county, ignorance is bliss. It works just like this:

Things have to change. Please do the research and choose your meat from responsible, local sources that care more about responsible practices than bottom lines. If more people did, these disease breeders would become irrelevant and we wouldn’t see headlines like this all the time.

About the author

Melissa Dykes

Melissa is a researcher and writer on anything that will help people make better decisions regarding what they are putting in their bodies to get healthier in this toxic soup we're all living in.

1 comment
Mary Prevo - May 25, 2015

Right on on almost all fronts, but DARK these chicken barns aren’t. Having grown up on a farm I know that when days are longest and sunshine brightest Chickens lay more. No little biddies are naturally hatched in the dark of winter, so as fall progresses egg laying slows greatly. They keep the lights on bright either constantly or at least extra long times. These egg producers like caged chickens best…least trouble, but when they advertise “free range,” that can mean that they simply can roam around in a chicken house. One big egg producer told me some years ago that it meant they had to have access to the outdoors….so they built their chicken barns so that there was a 10 ft. space between these large buildings that the chickens could wander into if they chose. Only they rarely chose to because the feed was all in the enclosed space.

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