Egg prices are going up in the United States, and it's because of a deadly epidemic, but not the one you think.
The wholesale price for a dozen eggs was less than $2 on average just four months ago. But according to data from the US Department of Agriculture last week, a box of 12 eggs today costs $2.95, and that's rising. Overall, the average weekly price for large eggs is up 44% from a year ago, according to the USDA.
The reason? A massive outbreak of bird flu has swept through the US poultry population since January. In recent months, nearly 27 million chickens and turkeys have been affected by the flu, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease, which causes respiratory problems, swelling and rapid death in bird’s farmyard, has been reported in more than 30 states, according to the USDA.
Note: check her more information egg prices are surging because of a major disease and its mot covid.
Avian flu has now spread beyond poultry farms and is infecting wild bird populations across the country. Last week, it was responsible for the deaths of more than 200 birds in an Illinois lake, 36 bald eagles in 14 states, and an unreported number of birds in at least two US zoos.
So far, there have been no cases of bird flu in humans in the United States as a result of the recent outbreak. In March, the CDC said the current bird flu outbreak "is primarily an animal health problem," adding that it "poses a low risk to the public."
Yet bird flu is hurting Americans' pocketbooks. Along with rising egg prices, wholesale poultry prices, which rose 4% in February alone, could continue to rise 9-12% over the course of the year, in part due to the flu, but also due to higher fuel prices and other supply chain issues, according to the USDA forecast and first reported by NBC News.
The USDA did not immediately respond to Fortune's request for comment.
An epidemic worse than in 2015?
This is not the first time an outbreak of bird flu has affected the price of eggs in the United States. In 2015, the price of eggs rose nearly 80% after more than 48 million chickens died in the worst outbreak of bird flu in US history.
But experts say this current outbreak has the potential to be even worse than 2015.
“We are above and beyond the rate of spread that we saw in 2015,” Grady Ferguson, a senior research analyst at agricultural data firm Gro Intelligence, said in an interview with The Washington Post. “We have been two months since the outbreak and the security protocols have not worked. I don't want to be a Chicken Little, but I think it's going to be worse than last time.
More than 1.3% of all US chickens and 6% of US turkeys have been affected in the past two months, Ferguson told The Washington Post. During the same period of the 2015 outbreak, the flu only affected 0.02% of chickens, Ferguson said.
Another blow to US wallets
A more devastating bird flu outbreak could mean egg prices continue to rise at the same time the cost of daily food continues to rise in the early months of 2022.
Inflation rates are currently the highest in four decades. Inflation hit 8.5% in March, fueled in part by the war in Ukraine.
Gasoline and food were the biggest contributors to the jump, and ordinary Americans are likely to feel the effects in their daily lives. Gasoline rose 48% and food prices rose 8.8%.