Bird Flu Election
Molly Butler / Media Matters

Research/Study Research/Study

Right-wing media figures are declaring bird flu the next “plandemic”

As livestock in several states have tested positive for a strain of bird flu, right-wing media figures have begun wildly theorizing that the virus is actually a “plandemic” meant to influence the 2024 election.

  • Livestock in several states have tested positive for bird flu, which has a low risk of human transmission

    • A recent outbreak of H5N1, or “bird flu,” has been identified in dairy cows in multiple states, with at least one human case and others being monitored. Since March 29, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has identified positive cases in livestock herds across nine states, mostly among dairy cows, while at least one more state has seen an outbreak in goats. In May, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment stated that it was monitoring approximately 70 dairy farm workers for potential bird flu exposures, though the workers were not showing symptoms of the virus. [NPR, 3/31/24; MPR News, 3/20/24; U.S. Department of Agriculture, accessed 5/13/24; CBS News, 5/12/24]
    • Humans are at a low risk of catching bird flu from infected animals, with “no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission.” The CDC has recorded only two positive bird flu cases in the United States, one in 2022 and the other this year. [The Washington Post, 4/2/24; World Health Organization, 2/26/24]
  • Officials are warning against consuming unpasteurized milk while some right-wing and social media figures promote it

    • The CDC and FDA have renewed warnings against consuming unpasteurized dairy products amid the recent bird flu outbreak, but right-wing media figures and social media influencers have been promoting the consumption of raw milk. [Media Matters, 5/8/24, 5/3/24]
  • Anti-vaccine figures claimed that the COVID-19 pandemic was planned

    • Anti-vaccine figures have previously asserted that the COVID-19 pandemic was a “plandemic,” alleging that vaccines developed for the pandemic would “kill millions.” The anti-vaccine film Plandemic helped spread the claims, and social media companies have struggled to contain the spread of the theory on their platforms. [Media Matters, 5/7/20, 7/23/21; NPR, 5/8/20]
  • Now, some right-wing media figures are insinuating that the bird flu — or the response to it — is an intentional plot to influence the election

    • On Infowars, Alex Jones claimed that “there’s so many stories here” about bird flu, and “the big one [is] that they’re going to use this to disrupt the election.” Jones would go on to insinuate that the bird flu outbreak was planned, saying that, “Six months ago the CDC, and the FDA, and the federal agencies all got behind the fearmongering and the federal government has started producing hundreds of millions of injections of a quote ‘bird flu vaccine’ that they just magically developed out of the blue sky for this exact strain. And then that exact strain is spreading and, ‘oh my God we’re all dead,’ even though they admit that no human has ever contracted this strain.” [Infowars, The Alex Jones Show, 5/10/24]
    • On his Daily Wire show, Matt Walsh stated, “We’re now less than six months away from another presidential election, and just in time, what do you know, there’s a new once-in-a-lifetime pandemic on the horizon.” Walsh also said that “if you keep track of the most alarming things they say, then it’s very easy to realize that pretty much none of it is true.” [The Daily Wire, The Matt Walsh Show, 5/10/24]
    • Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk listed bird flu alongside other potential crises that could become “the new thing you have to be worried about,” saying, “These are evil, evil people that are starting to realize that their coalition is collapsing.” He asserted, “Do not be surprised about bird flu becoming the new thing you have to be worried about. Maybe a cyber attack? Maybe an outage? Maybe another war? Maybe a false-flag attack? I’m just speculating.” [Real America’s Voice, The Charlie Kirk Show, 5/10/24]
    • Wall Street Silver, a social media account that has pushed right-wing narratives, mentioned bird flu and noted, “Has the Plandemic for the election year started? Vote by mail for everyone is the strategy?” In a second post, the account posted a screenshot of a Daily Mail headline reading “FDA says it’s preparing for a bird flu pandemic in people that could kill one in four Americans” and captioned it “Must be election season.” [Twitter/X, 5/12/24, 5/15/24, accessed 5/15/24]
    • Self-described conspiracy theorist Liz Churchill stated in a social media post that “it should be obvious by now that they plan the ‘pandemics’ especially during election season.” Her post also called the World Health Organization “liars” over the report that approximately 70 Colorado farm workers were being monitored for symptoms. [Twitter/X, 5/12/24, accessed 5/15/24]
    • Pro-Trump social media account il Donaldo Trumpo shared a 2023 video in which Donald Trump claimed that COVID-19 pandemic policies were a plot to disrupt the 2020 and 2024 elections, adding, “WE WILL NOT COMPLY WITH YOUR BIRD FLU BULLSHIT PLANDEMIC!!!” The same 2023 video was shared by prominent social media commentator Mario Nawful, who misleadingly captioned the video “TRUMP: BIRD FLU IS THE NEW COVID,” even though the former president did not mention bird flu in the video. [Twitter/X, 5/13/24, 5/14/24, accessed 5/15/24; The Dispatch, 5/15/24]
    • On Donald Trump’s Truth Social platform, QAnon-promoting account MJTruth commented that FDA warnings were “Election Flu Fear Porn.” The account added: “The FDA Prepares for a Flu Outbreak in Humans that has Plandemic Implications.” [Truth Social, 5/10/24, accessed 5/15/24]