Poultry industry officials urge precautions against bird flu

Posted March 08, 2017

Avian flu was detected in a Tennessee-based poultry breeding operation contracted by Tyson Foods, Inc., the largest chicken meat producer in the United States.

The facility in Tennessee's Lincoln County has been placed under quarantine, along with approximately 30 other poultry farms within a 6.2-mile (10 km) radius of the site, the state said.

Tyson, the nation's leading chicken meat producer, said in a statement that it was working with state and federal officials to contain HPAI by culling the birds on the farm.

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H7 HPAI, a highly pathogenic strain of avian flu, was found in the sample from the Lincoln County flock. Tyson said that it did not expect disruptions to its chicken business.

"Unfortunately, we are going to take a big hit not just for the state of Tennessee but in the country, because there will be some countries that will ban any product coming from the US". Other flocks in the quarantined area are being tested for the virus, it added. Growers are encouraged to properly suit up before they enter a chicken house, and ensure the chickens do not come in contact with people or birds who don't belong on the firm. The low pathogenicity strains of the avian flu usually cause very few clinical signs or symptoms in birds while the highly pathogenic strains have high mortality rates.

The statement said all Tyson poultry operations in the US are operating under heightened biosecurity as a result of avian flu outbreaks in this country in 2015.

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Tyson employees who come in contact with live birds received additional training specifically created to help protect against the spread of avian flu. That said, deadly human flu pandemics have been sparked by viruses that first emerged in birds, and health officials closely track what's killing poultry.

Most people become infected with the virus after coming into contact with saliva or feces of the infected bird.

"Bird flu" is a catch-all phrase for a variety of influenza viruses that spread among poultry. The dreaded epidemic is rearing its ugly head once again and authorities in the US are gearing up to implement stringent measures to combat bird flu. The company, Tennessee state government and USDA refused to name the affected farm. "It's a bird health issue and not a food safety or human health concern".

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