Tech and Science

The largest fresh egg producer in the United States has found bird flu in chickens at its facilities in Texas and Michigan

The largest fresh egg producer in the U.S. said Tuesday that it had temporarily halted production at a plant in Texas after chickens were found to have avian flu. Officials said the virus was also discovered at a poultry plant in Michigan.

Texas-based Cal-Maine Foods, Inc., based in Ridgeland, Mississippi, said in a statement that about 1.6 million layers and 337,000 pullets, about 3.6 percent of the total flock, were culled after the infection, Avian influenza was discovered at the facility in Parmer County, Texas.

The plant is located on the Texas-New Mexico border in the Texas Panhandle, approximately 85 miles (137 kilometers) southwest of Amarillo and approximately 370 miles (595 kilometers) northwest of Dallas.

“The company continues to work closely with federal, state and local government officials and specialized industry groups to mitigate the risk of future outbreaks and effectively manage the response,” the statement said.

“Cal-Maine Foods is working to ensure production at other facilities to minimize disruption to its customers,” the statement said.

The company said there is no known avian flu risk associated with eggs currently on the market and no eggs have been recalled.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, eggs that are handled and cooked properly are safe to eat.

Cal-Maine’s announcement comes a day after state health officials said a person was diagnosed with bird flu after coming into contact with cows believed to be infected, posing a risk to the public continues to be low.

In Michigan, the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory detected avian influenza at a commercial poultry facility in Ionia County, according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The county is about 100 miles (161 kilometers) northwest of Detroit.

The department said it received confirmation of the disease from the laboratory on Monday and it was the fourth time since 2022 that the disease had been detected at a commercial facility in Michigan.

Department spokeswoman Jennifer Holton said Tuesday that state law prohibits the department from disclosing the type of poultry at the Ionia facility.

The facility has been quarantined and the department does not anticipate disruptions to supply chains across the state, Holton said.

The human case in Texas is the first known case in the world of a person contracting this version of bird flu from a mammal, federal health officials said.

Last week, it was reported that dairy cows in Texas and Kansas were infected with bird flu — and federal agriculture officials later confirmed infections in a dairy herd in Michigan that had recently received cows from Texas.

The company said Cal-Maine sells most of its eggs in the Southwest, Southeast, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States.

Associated Press writer Corey Williams in Detroit contributed to this report.

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