College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Rising egg prices bedevil restaurants, grocers and consumers

It’s not entirely clear how the virus transferred from wild birds, which are carriers of the H5N2 virus, to poultry packed in enclosed facilities.

Conventional wisdom says the virus is transferred through physical contact such as bird droppings. But Hongwei Xin, director of the Egg Industry Center and professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering at Iowa State University, hypothesizes that particles of the virus can also travel through the air and seep into cracks of hatcheries and barns. If Xin’s suspicions about airborne travel are correct, crews meant to stop outbreaks may begin installing air-filter systems in poultry facilities.

Heat kills the virus, and outbreaks are expected to slow under the scorching sun of the summer months.

“The rest of the summer looks promising,” Xin said. “The big unknown is when fall comes around and temperatures drop.”

Xin hopes that by the time the summer gives way to autumn and wild birds migrate down through the Midwestern states once again, enough research will have been done to curb further outbreaks. But there are no guarantees.

For the original Kansas City Star story, click here.