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Mass Cull In Maryland To Contain Bird Flu

by 5m Editor
8 March 2004, at 12:00am

MARYLAND - State officials in Maryland have ordered the culling of 328, 000 birds on two huge commercial chicken farms, nearly four times the number killed when two Delaware farms were infected last month.

Mass Cull In Maryland To Contain Bird Flu - MARYLAND - State officials in Maryland have ordered the culling of 328, 000 birds on two huge commercial chicken farms, nearly four times the number killed when two Delaware farms were infected last month.

The cases in Delaware and on Maryland's Eastern Shore are from the same H7 strain, which isn't harmful to humans, authorities said Sunday.

Maryland agriculture officials confirmed Saturday that a farm with about 118,000 chickens was infected. They ordered the slaughter of those birds, as well as 210,000 others at another farm about a mile away under the same ownership. The slaughter began Sunday and was expected to take until Tuesday.

Agriculture officials also ordered a quarantine that covers eight farms within a two-mile radius of the infected farm, which grows chickens on a contract basis for Mountaire Farms of Selbyville, Del. The department also began testing 79 poultry farms within a six-mile radius.

The infected farm in Worcester County is about 45 miles from the nearest infected farm in Delaware. Authorities said they hadn't discovered a connection between the cases, but couldn't rule it out.

Officials emphasized the strain of the virus isn't a threat to humans, but it can wipe out poultry farms, especially if it turns up in a highly pathogenic form.

"It is discouraging, and it's surprising to us," Maryland Agriculture Secretary Lewis Riley, said Sunday at a news conference near the infected farm in Pocomoke City. "We're ready, and we're prepared to address it and to handle it."

The flu case dimmed hopes that international markets banning U.S. poultry would drop their embargoes. Those with a block on imports include the 15-nation European Union, China, Japan, Mexico, Russia and South Korea.

A different, more dangerous avian influenza strain has killed some 100 million birds in Asia and has been blamed for the deaths of more than 20 people in Vietnam and Thailand.

Agriculture Secretary Riley tightened a statewide ban Sunday on moving, gathering or selling live birds.

Industry leaders and state officials declined to identify the infected farm to keep away visitors who might spread the disease. But it is visible from a nearby state road, and workers in white plastic bio-security suits were seen Sunday cleaning out the chicken houses as state troopers blocked off the area.

Mountaire Farms officials didn't immediately return a call Sunday.

Officials said they discovered the flu after a grower reported many of his chickens were dying. The state ordered the slaughter of birds on that farm as well as in houses about a mile away that are under the same ownership. A third farm owned by the grower is two miles away and will be observed this week, officials said.

A more dangerous strain of avian influenza was found in Texas last month.

Source: eFeedLink - 8th March 2004

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