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Poultry experts treat avian influenza as foregone conclusion

by 5m Editor
13 December 2006, at 9:46am

US - The dreaded avian influenza outbreak has yet to strike the U.S., but here in one of the nation's leading poultry producing regions they talk as if it already has.

Poultry farmers boast of the latest extermination foams and decontamination trucks waiting to be dispatched to infected sites. A chicken lobbying group, the Georgia Poultry Federation, talks of the volley of press releases it has prepared to remind American consumers that cooked chicken and eggs are still safe to eat.

A state veterinarian even notes that Georgia's agricultural response team, which would be in charge of quarantines in an outbreak, is rethinking its method of disposing of infected carcasses. Incineration is preferred to mass burial, Stan Crane told a room full of poultry experts Tuesday at a bird flu briefing.

Federal officials and state agricultural leaders called the meeting to warn chicken farmers in Georgia, the nation's leading poultry producing state, to stay vigilant despite even though the H5N1 virus has not yet been spotted in the U.S.

"We must always keep our guard up, always look for it," said David Swayne, the director of the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory.

Health officials worry that the virus could spark a pandemic if it mutates into a new strain that could be easily transmitted among people. At least 154 people have been killed by the virus, which was once contained in Southeast Asia but has spread to Europe and Africa.

Source: AP via Ledger Enquirer

5m Editor