How NorCal's avian flu outbreak will impact you after more than 1 million birds euthanized

BySuzanne Phan KGO logo
Wednesday, January 3, 2024
How North Bay's avian flu outbreak will impact you
More than 1 million birds were euthanized in the Petaluma area as the avian flu is hitting California hard.

PETALUMA, Calif. -- The avian flu is hitting California hard. More than three million birds have been euthanized in the Golden State now.

The first Sonoma County outbreaks were detected in Petaluma a month ago. At that time, 250,000 birds were put down.

That number has since quadrupled.

It's a busy kitchen at Mr. Mom's Café in Petaluma. The eggs are always a hit.

"The eggs have always been great here," said Mike Carriotti, a Petaluma resident.

MORE: Sonoma Co. declares local emergency due to avian flu; 250,000 birds euthanized in Petaluma

Petaluma is known for producing eggs.

"This used to be the egg capital of California, at least, for growing chickens and eggs," said Craig Gronning.

But the avian flu has changed a lot.

"It is really devastating. It's crippling our entire poultry industry in Sonoma County," said Dayna Ghirardelli, executive director of Sonoma County Farm Bureau.

The avian flu has hit Sonoma County's $50 million poultry industry really hard. So far, more than one million birds have been euthanized.

Since Thanksgiving week, several local poultry producers have been euthanizing chickens and ducks because of the avian flu.

MORE: Egg prices reach record highs amid avian flu outbreak

There were two more outbreaks in Sonoma County last week.

"There's going to be an effect on the market. We're going to see eggs not available in the market. We may see the price of eggs increase," said Ghirardelli.

"I was shopping here at Lucky in Petaluma and they had no eggs -- not an egg on the shelf," said Carriotti.

"In the Bay Area, there are a lot of wonderful restaurants that rely on local duck production and ultimately, right now, that production has completely ceased," said Ghirardelli.

There has been an outpouring of financial support online for Liberty Ducks Family Farm. It provides ducks for many Bay Area restaurants.

MORE: 1st US case of bird flu in humans confirmed in Colorado, CDC says

According to the California Poultry Federation, the losses statewide in the past two months have been staggering.

"California, we've probably lost over three million so far -- egg layers, chickens, ducks, turkeys," said Bill Mattos, president of the California Poultry Federation.

Mattos explained what's being done to protect the birds.

"The farms are locked down. We don't let people in and out of the facility," said Mattos.

The California Poultry Federation says poultry producers are taking extra measures to protect their birds. But the warning extends to backyard chickens.

"People who own backyard chickens, they can be wiped out even if they only have five chickens so they've had to make sure every day when go into their backyard, they have clean clothes, clean shoes, clean everything. Otherwise, that can spread to the neighbor, etc," said Mattos.

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