The largest producer of fresh eggs in the United States has temporarily halted production at a Texas plant after bird flu was found in chickens.

Ridgeland, Mississippi-based Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. said in a statement that approximately 1.6 million laying hens and 337,000 pullets, or about 3.6% of its total flock, were destroyed after avian influenza was found at a facility in Parmer County, Texas.

Specifically, the chickens tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), caused by influenza A viruses that spread widely among wild and domestic birds.

Cal-Maine Foods said "no farm is immune from HPAI" but added that it "remained dedicated to robust biosecurity programs across its locations."

The infected plant is on the Texas-New Mexico border located in the Texas Panhandle about 85 miles southwest of Amarillo and about 370 miles northwest of Dallas.

Cal-Maine said it sells most of its eggs in the Southwestern, Southeastern, Midwestern, and mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S.

Midwest States Face Major Outbreak Of Avian Flu
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The company assured the public that there is no known bird flu risk associated with its eggs that are currently on the market. Additionally, they said that no eggs have been recalled.

CDC officials still maintain that the risk to human health remains low. They do warn people with unprotected exposure to infected birds or other animals, including livestock, are at a greater risk of infection.

Eggs that are properly handled and cooked are safe to eat, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Cooking eggs or poultry to an internal temperature of about 165 degrees Fahrenheit generally "kills bacteria and viruses, including bird flu viruses."

Mehmet Gökhan Bayhan
Mehmet Gökhan Bayhan
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“The Company continues to work closely with federal, state and local government officials and focused industry groups to mitigate the risk of future outbreaks and effectively manage the response,” the company said in a statement.

This latest announcement comes a day after state and federal officials said that a dairy worker in Texas was being treated for the virus that causes avian influenza, becoming just the second known human case in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the person tested positive for H5N1 bird flu.

Health officials also said that this case marks the first known instance globally of a person catching this version of bird flu from a mammal.

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