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Avian flu outbreak leading to higher egg prices in the grocery store

Marina Shemesh

New York state officials are staying vigilant about one cause of a nationwide egg shortage: the avian flu.

The avian flu is a highly contagious virus that kills chickens. The Agriculture Department said the nation’s domestic egg supply is dropping 7.5% every month since an avian virus outbreak early last year. New Yorkers see it by the doubling of egg prices in the grocery store. It’s gotten the attention of Gov. Kathy Hochul.

"It’s something I’m talking to Commissioner Ball about to see if there’s anyway to see if there’s anyway to help address this issue," Hochul said. "It’s serious when you think of all the products eggs to into."

New York State Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball expects it will be months before the avian flu outbreak ends. Ball said New York has been spared a spread of the virus from migratory birds in recent years.

“Five, six years ago when it came through the United States, we were careful, we were cautious and it didn’t happen in New York, which was a miracle," Ball said. "This year it showed up in Long Island and a few other isolated places around the state and its just the price of vigilance is what we have to do. It was the first time we have had it in New York state in a decade probably.”

Ball advises vigilance to all chicken farmers, against a virus spread by migratory birds that will be flying north again this spring.

"They drop in somebody’s backyard flock and visit with chicken and geese and it gets started," Ball said. "Just literally a truck exposed to it can drive by a poultry farm and affect it."

Ball advises even backyard chicken farmers to take precautions, like keeping chickens away from wild birds, and letting the state know if any birds show symptoms.

He also notes that high gas prices are also responsible for higher egg prices.

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