Medicine

Bird flu suspected in Alabama

Bird flu suspected in Alabama

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries issued a stop movement order on select poultry after three suspected cases of bird flu were discovered recently. BRF, the country's largest chicken exporting company, had the biggest intraday gain in eight days after the news of the second Tennessee case. The USDA on March 5 confirmed that one was the United States' first infection of highly pathogenic flu in commercial poultry in a year. The flock that tested positive was less than two miles from the farm where bird flu was found earlier this month.

In 2014 and 2015, a US avian flu outbreak required the slaughter of 50 million chickens (mostly egg-laying hens) and turkeys.

One of the suspected outbreaks involves a commercial breeder operation in Lauderdale County, located in the far northwestern corner of the state where birds haven't shown significant mortality.

Avian influenza is not harmful to humans. "Our people went door to door", Alabama agriculture department spokeswoman Amy Belcher said Wednesday. Samples from both premises have been sent to the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa and are being tested to determine presence of the virus.


A statement from the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries says no affected birds have entered the food chain. The detections were found during routine surveillance of poultry. Lee is available to address biosecurity measures aimed at preventing the spread of bird flu and to discuss the various strains of the disease.

It also would likely trigger more import bans from trading partners, after South Korea, Japan and other countries limited imports after the highly pathogenic case in Tennessee.

Since the initial Tennessee report, South Korea banned imports of US poultry and some other importing nations restricted product from the state or area affected.

Another widespread outbreak could represent a financial blow for poultry operators because it could kill more birds or require flocks to be culled. Alabama was the third-largest US chicken-producing state by volume as of 2015, with output of 6.17 billion pounds, USDA data show.


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