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Conspiracy theorists flock to bird flu, spreading falsehoods

Posted at 11:13 AM, May 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-17 12:13:34-04

OMAHA, Neb. (Associated Press) — The recent outbreak of avian flu is forcing farmers to cull their flocks and leading to concerns about even higher food prices. While the outbreak began in Iowa in early March, it has since spread from coast to coast, all the way to Washington and Oregon, to Maine and New Hampshire.

While highly pathogenic avian influenza, or bird flu, doesn't pose a significant threat to humans, the outbreak is prompting a new wave of some of the same conspiracy theories that emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Experts who study misinformation say claims that the avian flu is a bioweapon or an elaborate hoax reflect a deepening distrust of the media and scientific experts. For poultry farmers and animal health officials in affected states, however, the flu poses a threat that's all too real for both their animals and their local economies.

Locally, Nebraska's last major infection was discovered on April 27 in a flock of 2.1 million in Knox County. It is the largest flock to be culled in the last several weeks as part of the overarching 37.8 million birds affected nationwide.

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