The National Chicken Council, U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, National Turkey Federation, United Egg Producers, and the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council today released a joint statement, available here,  in response to the recent avian influenza outbreaks in the United States:

In light of the recent detections of avian influenza (AI) in the United States, the U.S. poultry industry would like to assure the public that detailed response plans are in place for controlling the spread of the virus and for eliminating the virus entirely. The U.S. government and poultry industries have sophisticated systems and techniques to detect the introduction of the virus into a commercial poultry flock and have proven methods to quickly eliminate the virus. The U.S. poultry industry has a strong avian influenza testing and detection program administered by the federal National Poultry Improvement Plan, in addition to each state’s individual response plan. Poultry farmers also maintain strict biosecurity measures year-round, keep their flocks protected from wild birds and routinely test flocks for avian influenza.

The network of state and federal agencies, working in conjunction with the poultry industry, has already executed procedures to quarantine any affected flock and reduce the impact of these instances. None of birds from the affected flocks are viable for sale and have not entered the food chain.

Though two different strains of the AI virus have been detected, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service have confirmed there is no immediate public health concern with either of these avian influenza viruses. Both H5N2 and H5N8 viruses have been found in other parts of the world and have not caused any human infection to date. As a reminder though, the proper handling and cooking of poultry to an internal temperature of 165 ˚F kills bacteria and viruses.

 The poultry industry will continue to monitor flocks for the virus.

 For more information about the ongoing avian influenza disease incident, visit the APHIS website. More information about avian influenza can be found on the USDA avian influenza website.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is interviewing one of its veterinarians on avian influenza on USDA Radio, click to hear the interview.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed on Wednesday that H5N2 avian influenza was found in a commercial turkey flock in Boone County, Arkansas. Earlier this week, the Missouri Department of Agriculture said that avian influenza was found at a turkey facility in central Missouri’s Moniteau County.  Last Sunday, the state said avian influenza had been confirmed at a turkey farm in Jasper County in southwest Missouri.   The strain, confirmed as H5N2, is the same strain found previously in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Minnesota.  The H5N8 strain was previously confirmed in a commercial turkey flock in California.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is working closely with the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission on a joint incident response.  State officials quarantined the affected premises and birds on the property are being depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease. Surveillance and testing procedures will be implemented at properties near the affected facility to help ensure that avian influenza will not spread.

Avian influenza has been spreading after appearing in a migratory route along the Mississippi River.  Previously, the outbreak, which started in mid-December, was contained to western states. H5N8 originated in Asia and spread along wild bird migratory pathways, including the Pacific flyway, although only H5N2 has been detected in both the Pacific and Mississippi flyways.

Around 40 countries have placed restrictions on the $5.7 billion U.S. poultry business in the wake of recent avian influenza outbreaks.  China, South Korea, and South Africa  have previously halted all U.S. poultry imports.  Mexico, the top importer of U.S. chicken and turkey, expanded bans this week to restrict shipments from  states with confirmed cases in commercial flocks, including California, Missouri, and Minnesota. Minnesota is the largest producer of turkeys in the United States.  The European Union, Guatemala, Jordan and more than a dozen other countries have also restricted some U.S. shipments.