Bird flu worries move on to Texas


SALEM, Ohio – Although chickens at a Pennsylvania farm tested positive for an active strain of bird flu, state officials lifted the ban on egg shipments Feb. 20.

The Lancaster County farm’s 480,000-hen flock tested positive for the flu the previous week. The farm remains under quarantine.

Because the flu is a low-risk strain, the birds were not killed, according to the state department of agriculture. Eleven flocks within the 2-mile surveillance zone tested negative for the flu.

Officials continue to stress the flu cannot be transmitted through eggs or meat, and the virus is less threatening than the strain killing people and birds in Asia.

Birds in both Delaware and New Jersey have also tested positive for low-pathogenic strains.

Moving west. The news isn’t as good in Texas.

The USDA confirmed Feb. 23 a flock of chickens in south central Texas not only has avian influenza, but also has a highly pathogenic form of the flu.

The flock of 6,608 broiler chickens was killed and the farm is under quarantine.

Preliminary information says some of the birds tested positive for the flu at two live bird markets in Texas, said Ron DeHaven, USDA chief veterinary officer. Birds at both markets are being killed.

There is no evidence of current human health implications of this virus in Texas.

The USDA and Texas Animal Health Commission are investigating the source of the infection.

According to the USDA, this is the first such case in the United States in 20 years.

The last time a highly pathogenic bird flu virus was in the country, it struck Pennsylvania and Virginia. Pennsylvania’s poultry industry lost 22 million birds and cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Canadian outbreak. Avian influenza was also confirmed in British Columbia Feb. 19, according to the Canada Food Inspection Agency.

Sixteen thousand birds were killed and the farm is quarantined.

Canada NewsWire reported employees on the farm are suffering mild respiratory problems.

Dangerous strain. While a deadly form of the bird flu ravages Asia, the words “highly pathogenic” strike fear in the United States.

Millions of birds have been killed in several Asian countries and more than 20 people have died.


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