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Delaware Finds 2nd Farm with Bird Flu Virus

by 5m Editor
11 February 2004, at 12:00am

US - A bird flu virus has been discovered in a second chicken flock in Delaware, sparking concerns the outbreak could seriously threaten the mid-Atlantic region's poultry industry, state officials said on Tuesday.

Delaware Finds 2nd Farm with Bird Flu Virus - US - A bird flu virus has been discovered in a second chicken flock in Delaware, sparking concerns the outbreak could seriously threaten the mid-Atlantic region's poultry industry, state officials said on Tuesday.

News of the second infection sent futures prices sharply lower for cattle, soybeans and soymeal in U.S. commodity markets. China and Brazil also joined a growing list of countries to ban all U.S. poultry.

Delaware officials said the bird flu virus found in a commercial flock of chickens in Sussex County was the same H7 strain found last week at another farm five miles away.

The H7 virus, which is not transmissible to humans, is different from the strain that has killed at least 19 people and decimated poultry stocks in 10 Asian nations.

State officials, who had believed the first case was an isolated incident, immediately banned the sale of live poultry in the state as a precaution.

"This development is completely unexpected given the precautions we took, the investigation we made and the industry's expectations of this disease's behavior," Delaware's Agriculture Secretary Michael Scuse said in a statement.

"This is now a serious situation for the DelMarVa poultry industry," he added, referring to the Delaware, Maryland and Virginia region.

Last year, broiler production in the three states totaled 3.21 billion pounds, about 10 percent of annual U.S. chicken production.

Chickens to be destroyed

Delaware said it will kill 72,000 birds in three chicken houses to stop the spread of the virus. The state slaughtered 12,000 chickens after the first finding.

State officials declined to identify the company that purchases poultry from the infected commercial flock. They said only that Perdue Farms Inc. and Tyson Foods were among a handful of large companies that buy chicken from Delaware.

The new case will delay efforts by the U.S. Agriculture Department to convince trading partners to ease bans on U.S. poultry, industry officials said.

"Obviously the time frame for restoring normal trade relations has lengthened a bit because of this second flock," said Richard Lobb, spokesman for the National Chicken Council.

The USDA said on Tuesday that China and Brazil had joined a growing list of countries, including Japan and South Korea, that have banned all U.S. poultry.

Russia, the top buyer of U.S. chicken, and Hong Kong suspended imports only from Delaware. Mexico added Delaware to a list of nine states from which it will not import poultry.

USDA officials confirmed the strain of the bird flu virus in the first Delaware farm was H7N2, which has never been known to cause harm to humans. Tests were being conducted by the USDA animal disease laboratory in Ames, Iowa, to determine which H7 strain was found in the second farm.

The virus can spread easily from one bird to another through mud and manure, and even by wind.

Delaware produces about 1.5 billion pounds of poultry a year, or about 4 percent of all U.S. supplies.

Source: Reuters - 11th February 2004

5m Editor