The avian influenza outbreak of 2022 has affected tens of millions of birds so far — and one of TikTok’s most beloved birds, an emu named Emmanuel, is the avian flu’s latest victim. Though the Knuckle Bump Farms resident is still hanging in there, the bird flu has already killed about 50 of the other birds on the farm.
Knuckle Bump Farms did not immediately respond to Green Matters’ request for comment, and owner Taylor Blake tweeted that she is not doing news interviews right now, as she is exhausted from dealing with the situation on her farm. That said, here’s what we know so far about the condition of Emmanuel and the farm’s other birds.
The avian flu has killed more than 50 birds on Knuckle Bump Farms.
“Not many people are aware of the dangers that wild birds pose to domesticated birds. Wild birds carry and transmit a deadly virus known as avian influenza,” Blake explained in a tweet thread. “Our farm was heavily impacted by wild geese bringing in AI, and we lost 99 percent of the birds on our farm.”
She then explained that this issue began when a flock of about 50 wild Egyptian geese started flying onto the Florida-based farm every day — and even when the staff would try to chase them away, they would return overnight.
“Not many people are aware of the dangers that wild birds pose to domesticated birds,” she added. According to NBC News, geese and other wild birds can carry the avian flu, and via their saliva, mucus, feces, they can pass the virus onto other birds, including domesticated ones.
Soon, nearly every bird on the farm was affected by the disease. Within three days, Blake claims that it killed 99 percent of Knuckle Bump Farms’ birds — a total of more than 50 birds, including chickens, ducks, geese, black swans, and turkeys.
Emmanuel the emu has contracted the avian flu.
As of Oct. 15, only two birds were still alive on the farm: Rico and Emmanuel, the latter of whom is Knuckle Bump Farms’ most famous inhabitant. However, Emmanuel also contracted the avian flu, and for the past few days, Blake has been “treating him around the clock.”
“I will do anything and go into any amount of debt to save his life,” Blake wrote on Saturday, adding that she was working with a vet and an avian flu specialist, as well as following all FDA-recommended advice to prevent the flu from spreading any further.
Over the past few days, Blake has kept her 898,000 Twitter followers up to date on Emmanuel’s symptoms and injuries as related to the flu, which include nerve damage — and as of today, Oct. 19, Emmanuel is “getting stronger every day.” He has been doing physical therapy, he is trying to stand up on his own, and the avian specialist was "incredibly impressed with his demeanor and vitals" on Monday. She took blood from Emmanuel, and tests should be coming back shortly.
The avian flu affects different bird species differently — and in rare cases, it can infect humans.
As explained by NPR, the avian flu typically kills chickens and turkeys very quickly, but certain wild marine bird species can simply be carriers of the virus and survive it — which explains why Emmanuel is still holding on.
Though there have been a few documented cases of humans contracting the bird flu, humans generally do not need to worry about being impacted by the virus, unless they are in direct contact with affected birds. In fact, experts have warned that there’s always the chance that the next human pandemic could be born from the bird flu, as per NPR. Blake is following all regulations, including quarantining, to ensure the virus does not leave Knuckle Bump Farms.
It’s clear how much Blake loves Emmanuel, and we hope he makes a full recovery — and gets back to hilariously interrupting Blake’s TikTok videos — very soon.