In the spring of 1983, a flock of wild ducks carrying a strain of avian influenza virus settled on a pond in a chicken farm in eastern Pennsylvania. The virus was excreted in the ducks’ feces, which meant that it got onto the ground and then onto the boots of a farmer, which is why in turn it soon found its way into the chicken barn. From there the virus spread, carried by truckers who go from farm to farm collecting eggs, selling feed or taking broilers to market. As it spread, it replicated hundreds of millions of times, and as it replicated it underwent a critical mutation that turned it from a relatively benign virus into a killer. By late spring, chickens were collapsing within days of infection. By October, 17 million domestic birds—broilers, layers, turkeys, guinea fowl—from Pennsylvania down through Maryland and Virginia were dead.
Ebola Virus Obsession: The Last Outbreak
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