Can you get the bird flu from eating eggs?

Rogelio V. Solis/AP
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Cal-Maine Foods, Inc., the largest producer of fresh eggs in the U.S., has temporarily halted production at one of its facilities in Texas after detecting bird flu there, the company announced Tuesday.

The company says it “depopulated” about 1.6 million laying hens and 337,000 pullets, or about 3.6% of its flock, as a result of the outbreak.

Bird flu — also known as highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI — is a highly contagious virus typically spread by wild birds that is extremely deadly to avian populations. Human infections are rare.

Commercial farms sometimes euthanize part of their flock during bird flu outbreaks to limit the spread of the disease, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

But it’s possible that the depopulation at the Texas location could lead to higher egg prices at the grocery store, says Amy Hagerman, an associate professor of agricultural economics at Oklahoma State University.

“Any time you have an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in a large poultry producer like this, it has the potential to impact the market, because you’re taking a large number of egg-laying birds out of production all at once,” Hagerman says.

The CDC says the likelihood of someone getting bird flu by eating contaminated eggs is very low, and that a person cannot contract it from eggs that are cooked and stored properly.


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Chuck comes from a lineage of journalism. He has written for some of the webs most popular news sites. He enjoys spending time outdoors, bull riding, and collecting old vinyl records. Roll Tide!