The month that ended in the final months of Minnesota Timberwolves basketball was livelier
than they have ever been this season and that’s not solely because they were able to beat the
Memphis Grizzlies in their first-round playoff series.
In mid-April, during a game one game, a woman held her hands onto the courts. The next day
another woman stuck herself to the goalpost. In the following week the third woman dressed as
a ref took over the court after removing her jacket and revealing the shirt beneath that said:
“Glen Taylor roasts animals alive.”
The protests, organized through the animal-rights organization Direct Action Everywhere, were
directed at Timberwolves the major owner Glen Taylor. Taylor also is the owner of Rembrandt
Enterprises, a large Iowa egg producer that has killed — or deliberately killed 5.3 million
chickens due to the widespread bird flu epidemic (and later cut off the majority of its
The virus, also known as”H5N1″ or Eurasian H5N1 bird flu has been ravaging Europe, Asia, and
Africa in the latter half of 2021 and continues to rage and cause havoc, with Europe
experiencing the worst virus of bird flu in history. It was first discovered by the US in January,
and it has now spread to 32 states, leading to the deaths of more than 36 million turkeys and
chickens and also causing a surge in egg prices.
Although the virus has been linked to a nearly 100 percent mortality rate among poultry infected
and is able to spread quickly within birds, particularly when they are in industrial environments It
is currently considered to pose no danger to humans. The virus rarely spreads to humans, and it
only happens to those who come in close contact with birds that have been infected. Even when
there are human-related infections, “the viruses are unable to efficiently transmit between
humans,” states Michelle Wille, a virus Ecologist at The University of Sydney.
However, if certain strains of the avian flu are able to infect humans, it could be fatal. Between
2003 and 2021 approximately over half of 863 people who contracted the earlier strain of H5N1
passed away. The H5N1 strain now expanding is more resistant to transmission and less
damaging for humans than the ones which infected humans in the past. Moreover, only two
individuals have been found positive for the virus one man from the United Kingdom last
December, and a person in Colorado this week.
The Colorado man was a prisoner who came into close contact with potentially infected birds
when working in an operation to cull within a work program called the program was suffering
from some days of fatigue but was able to recover after treatment with an antiviral medication. A
total of 10 people were in his contact and are now under surveillance.
Apart from the occasional, one-off incident within close human contact, the biggest concern is
that the flu that spreads to birds is likely to change in a manner that permits it to pass on easily
from individual to individual, potentially creating a new pandemic. The widespread bird flu
epidemic in 2005 raised alarm alarms and caused the US Senate to give the sum of $4 billion in
order to help prepare for a potential pandemic of influenza but when a pandemic of the flu did
begin to spread in 2009, the cause was eventually traced to the swine flu.
As of now, the bird flu is mainly a concern for birds. It’s not the virus that’s taking the lives of
many birds however, it’s their owners.
When turkey, chicken egg, and chicken companies spot one bird infected and they find one
infected bird, they eliminate the entire collection in an attempt to stop the spreading of the
disease. This is done by employing a myriad of painful methods, like applying a water-based
suffocating foam, or shutting off vents in the barn to increase temperatures to the point that birds
die from heatstroke which is a method known as ventilation shut down that can take anywhere
from 1.5 to 3.75 hours to kill the birds.
“It’s horrendous,” says Craig Watts, a former large-scale chicken farmer who is now Director of
Field Operations at the Socially Responsible Agriculture Project, which is a non-profit
organization that promotes industrial livestock production. “I’ve had to live in these homes where
the power went off and the power did not start. In a matter of minutes, the heat is insufferable. …
It’s unbearable. cannot imagine it lasting for many hours.”
As per The Storm Lake Times, an outlet that is located close to Rembrandt’s factory The
company used the ventilation shut-down plus or VSD+, which means they also put heat into
their barns to kill birds more quickly, a method which is used in several States. Rembrandt
Enterprises did not respond to requests for information.
The situation is horrendous however, given the industrialization of the US poultry industry and
the response to previous bird influenza outbreaks, animal rights advocates claim that it’s not
surprising. A majority of birds used for food and eggs across the US are kept on factory farms
where the producers are able to raise several hundred thousand or millions of birds every year.
Most of the creatures are genetically similar, so may cause them to be more susceptible to bird
influenza. Certain experts believe that the increased intensity of animal breeding which is raising
more animals close to each other — may cause increasing the transmission and virulence of
different strains of bird flu.
Dena Jones of the Animal Welfare Institute says the 2014-2015 bird flu outbreak in the US,
which led to the culling of more than 50 million animals — the largest cull in US history — didn’t
prompt any real change in the industry. Instead, mega operations that raise millions of birds per
year are continuing to be built across the country, from Oregon to Wisconsin and West Virginia
to North Carolina as US chicken and egg consumption rises.
“We’re doubling down on this same system by raising more animals with less genetic diversity
and higher density in larger operations, and all of that contributes to making it difficult to
humanely kill an animal during an emergency,” Jones explained.
They are culling techniques that kill birds more quickly than ventilation shut-down like spraying
the birds with nitrogen-filled foam or gassing them inside small enclosures as some producers
use to deal with the outbreak. The race is also underway to make a virus for bird flu that can be
used to limit the spread of any future outbreaks, which the USDA is partly funding.
Given the speed with the rate at which bird flu spreads through commercial flocks of poultry, and
the extent of pain it causes for birds infected that the industry has no other choice than to
massively kill. However, the USDA’s acceptance of shutting down ventilation in 2015, and the
increasing frequency of the use of this method over the last few years along with the slow speed
of approval for vaccines and their acceptance, means that for the foreseeable future poultry will
be ignored when fighting the bird flu. The continuing expansion and intensification of US animal
agriculture, together with the rise in outbreaks of animal diseases, may also suggest that we
have to be prepared for the threat of bird flu and the imminent danger it presents.
Detailed explanation of – The spread of the bird flu.
Migratory waterfowl such as geese, ducks, and terns, are natural hosts for highly pathogenic
avian influenza strains however, they are able to largely but may not necessarily -transmit and
carry the virus, without showing any symptoms.
Wild birds seldom come into contact with farm-raised chickens and turkeys, which are kept in
huge indoor barns — particularly in the more developed economies, however, they spread the
virus through their saliva, and fecal droplets of nasal secretions are a source of contamination
for the feed of animals or fall on surfaces such as farmworkers clothes or equipment used in
farming. Researchers believe that the global trade in poultry is also a major factor in the spread
of bird flu by allowing the export and importation of affected poultry.
When any bird is positive for the disease the entire flock is removed, as the flu is able to quickly
extend to the hundreds of thousands of chickens, hens, or turkeys that reside on the same farm.
The flu itself can be painful for poultry that is infected. Chickens experience breathing difficulties
and are suffering from severe diarrhea. They may also develop swelling on their heads and
neck or around their eyes. Turkey’s wings may be paralyzed, and they may be prone to shaking.
Bird influenza epidemics were documented in commercial flocks of poultry from around the 19th
century at a minimum, however, the rate of increase became more of a problem in the poultry
industry beginning in 1997, after the H5N1 outbreak in Hong Kong chicken farms led to 18
people being infected 6 of whom passed away. Officials responded by removing the entire 1.3
million poultry that was in Hong Kong in the winter of 1997-98. Since that time, there have been
outbreaks across the globe every several years.
There isn’t much more than mass culling is possible to stop the spread once it has begun. Adel
Talaat, a professor of microbiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She suggests that
we enhance surveillance for disease and biosecurity on farms to stop new outbreaks and
reduce the spread of disease, however an effective vaccine that is able to decrease the risk of
transmission could be a huge help.
As of now, there aren’t any extremely efficient vaccines available, However, Talaat is working on
developing one by using a database of tens of thousands of antigens of avian flu to develop a
“composite” vaccine that he believes will shield against future and present strains of the virus.
“Our job is to try to stop this cycle of transmission,” Talaat declares. “Because if you stop the
cycle of transmission you will be able to basically stop the mutation and stop the replication of
He believes it could take five to six years before he finishes his research and hopefully gets
USDA approval. He also says an extensive vaccination program during the initial phase of an
outbreak of bird flu could be successful in reducing the spread of the virus.
“In a big country [like the US], once we start seeing any one case, we know it’s going to go
throughout the states — state by state — so we really should start an aggressive campaign for
vaccination right away,” Talaat states.
In addition to the lack of effectiveness of the current bird influenza vaccines, they’re constructed
in such a way that makes it impossible to differentiate unvaccinated birds from birds infected.
Since no country would want the imported meat from infected animals, the vaccines have not
been successful. Talaat is hoping that his vaccine will resolve this long-running issue.
A spokesperson from the National Turkey Federation told Vox via an email, that the trade
organization “supports vaccination research and believes that it can be accomplished fairly
quickly. But, World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) rules apply strict trade penalties for
using vaccines We are urging USDA to be aggressive in pursuing an overhaul of these rules.”
“Decisions on vaccinations require much data and we’re investigating an avian influenza
vaccine that could distinguish from the wild-type virus,” Rick Coker, an official USDA
spokesperson, stated in an email. “We do not have a time frame on any potential vaccine or
how it would be used.”
There are initiatives underway to develop a genome-editing chicken breed that is not
susceptible to bird influenza. For now, the best method to stop the flu from killing poultry is to
eliminate the chickens.