Avian flu confirmed in multiple states

Turkey_White_blogThe U.S. Department of Agriculture has confirmed a case of avian flu in Arkansas – the heart of America’s poultry region – which comes after confirmed cases have already been announced in states ranging from Minnesota and Missouri to California.

A recent article states that the case in Minnesota was the first in the Mississippi flyway, a migratory route along the Mississippi River that also includes Missouri and Arkansas. Once this case was confirmed, Arkansas producers were on alert due to how quickly it can spread rapidly through a flock, killing birds in as little as 48 hours.

Since confirmation, the Arkansas Livestock & Poultry Commission said they will follow strict USDA protocols to depopulate the affected flock so that no affected birds will enter the food supply. Surveillance and testing procedures will also be implemented at properties near the affected facility to ensure that the virus has not spread, the article states.

The USA Poultry & Egg Export Council said in another article it expects 30 to 40 additional countries to impose new trade restrictions on U.S. poultry and eggs in the $5.7 billion export market. Additional limits could come from Mexico, the top U.S. chicken importer, which already is blocking poultry imports from Minnesota, Missouri and California due to bird flu.

Previous cases of bird flu in other states triggered China and South Korea to recently impose bans on U.S. poultry imports. Last year, they accounted for about $428.5 million in export sales of poultry meat and products, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

While this new strain is known as H5N2, the first strain of bird flu to really worry experts was H5N1, which is responsible for infecting approximately 784 people in 16 countries since 2003, killing 429 of them. According to researchers, H5N1 is still circulating, mutating and swapping genes making it very difficult to treat.

Between 2003 and now, another strain, H1N1, also popped in the U.S. and abroad,  but according to reports, “was not an especially deadly pandemic.” Experts say all flu viruses mutate easily, which is why a fresh strain of influenza seems to occur every few years.

To prevent bird flu from spreading into his facilities, one poultry farmer said in an article he has barred outsiders from entering his barns and requires increased cleaning of trucks hauling feed and chickens between farms.

“Transmission can happen whether it comes in on feces on your boot or a piece of a feather that got on a shirt when you’re out doing environmental inspections on a farm.”

According to the Arkansas Livestock & Poultry Commission, this current virus is not known to cause disease in humans and poses no threat to human health.

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