In the first half of 2015 the United States faced its worst outbreak on record of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in poultry (HPAI, informally known as bird flu). According to the World Organisation For Animal Health, since December 2014 in the U. S. nearly 65 million birds were susceptible to HPAI. In it's recent report, titled "Fall 2015 HPAI Preparedness and Response Plan", the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) says 7.5 million turkeys and 42.1 million egg-layer and pullet chickens have already been killed or culled, with devastating effects on these businesses and a cost to Federal taxpayers of over $950 million. U.S. egg prices skyrocketed to record high in summer because of the egg shortage and may continue to rise in case of likely fall return of epidemic. Under USDA's worst case scenario, 500 or more commercial establishments of various sizes across a large geographical area could be affected, including commercial high-volume poultry establishments, commercial high-value poultry establishments (game or specialty birds), the live bird marketing system, and backyard flocks in the 20 States that represent a composite of the top broiler, turkey, and layer producing states.
Since 1996 HPAI viruses have spread throughout Asia and into Europe, Africa and North America, causing the loss of hundreds of millions of birds. The current epizootic is the largest in terms of number of infected birds and also the most widely spread geographically, affecting 30 countries during the single year.