Bad case of bird flu creates rise in price of eggs

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ByJonathan Bloom KGO logo
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Bad case of bird flu creates rise in price of eggs
The worst case of avian flu in years is causing prices of eggs to rise across the nation as the country faces an egg shortage.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- They're incredible, edible, and getting awfully expensive.

Eggs are in short supply, so much so that some restaurants are taking them off the menu.

Some people come to It's Tops Coffee Shop for the vintage jukeboxes or the old-fashioned milkshakes, but it's hard to visit the diner without ordering eggs.

"I come to get eggs every day almost, and they're great," said customer Andre Lambert.

The eggs are everywhere, on your plate, in the waffle batter.

"We even throw and egg in a burger now and then," said It's Tops owner Sheila Chapman.

Chapman was surprised to learn the price of eggs had doubled. "My brother came back from buying eggs one day and he was white as a ghost," she said. "That was a huge jump. We've never seen anything all at once like that."

It turns out the root of the problem is far away from the Bay Area, and it could get worse before it gets better. Veterinarians say it's an outbreak of the bird flu, worse than they've ever seen it before. The culprits are geese and ducks migrating through the poultry farms of the Midwest.

University of California Davis veterinarian Maurice Pitesky says the geese leave infected droppings behind with a virus that's deadly to chickens and highly contagious. "And they're not for the most part affected by the disease, but they can be carriers of it," said Maurice Pitesky. "It means we're euthanizing those flocks that are affected."

An estimated 40-million egg laying hens, one-eighth of the country's population. Turkeys can also catch the flu, even more easily than chickens.

"Turkey prices are going up also,and we're still not sure how that will affect turkey prices around Thanksgiving," Pitesky said.

In the case of eggs, California farms haven't been hit by the flu, but Pitesky says they're producing fewer eggs. This year, the ban on cramped battery cages went into effect, reducing some farms' capacity. California's been importing more eggs from the Midwest where the flu is spreading.