Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) could return on the scene in the commercial poultry industry as soon as November 2022. 

In a WATT Poultry Chat interview, Dr. Thomas Elam, president of FarmEcon LLC, said the impacts of the last HPAI outbreak are already evident in the poultry industry. 

Editor's note: This video was filmed near the end of August 2022 and reflects the scenario at that time. The HPAI situation is continually changing. WATT Global Media's coverage of the disease can be found here

Austin Alonzo: As soon as one HPAI outbreak is over, it's time to start worrying about migratory birds once again. What's the latest on HPAI?

Thomas Elam: As you indicated, this one appears to be over. It's slowed down in June 2022 and then in July 2022, I think we had maybe one or two more small flocks out west break with the disease. 

But since then, we haven't seen any more commercial flocks break. So the pace has definitely slowed down. But we're still finding some backyard flocks with HPAI. So the virus is still out there. It's still circulating, although the rate of backyard infections has slowed down considerably. 

I think the thing that I worry about is that once this particular strain of virus gets into a country, it manages to infect a large number of commercial operations. It is very difficult to totally eliminate it. In that way maybe its a little bit like COVID. 

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We are very hesitant to vaccinate because that affects our exports. And I don't think there are any really good vaccines available for this particular strain. 

So I think we should look forward to the fall migration season with some trepidation. As the weather cools off, and the virus load starts to increase again, we're likely -- not certainly but likely -- to see some new outbreaks come November 2022, December 2022 or January 2023.

Austin Alonzo: Was there anything else you had to add?

Thomas Elam: We have definitely seen the impact of HPAI on production. Last month's poultry production report showed boilers down I think 3%. And turkey production for the month was down an astounding 14%. 

So, we are seeing an impact on availability of poultry and meat. Egg production is also down. Prices are more than double what they were a year ago. 

The markets have been impacted. Producers are doing their best to recover but it's just going to take some time, especially given that some breeding herds, particularly some laying egg, or layer breeding herds or flocks were affected. Some of them were quite large. So it's going to take a while to replace all the birds.

This transcript edited for length and clarity.