Oklahoma bans poultry imports from Texas

Tuesday, February 24th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The bird flu known as avian influenza has struck a chicken farm in Texas. More than 7,000 chickens had to be destroyed.

The deadly outbreak of the contagious virus has forced Oklahoma to ban Texas poultry from entering the Sooner state. That’s a relief to one poultry farmer in Bluejacket in Craig County.

News on 6 reporter Patrina Adger has his story.

“If I don't have a flock of birds to sell I don't have any money coming in." Jason Bryan has been a poultry farmer for 13 years. He has 80,000 chickens on his Bluejacket farm. He grows them for Tyson Foods. The outbreak of the avian flu has him concerned, so much he's watchful of the neighboring farmers and their coop.

"There are people that go to poultry swaps around here. I'm concerned about those people I come in contact with because that strain that originated in the US came from an independent producer and there's very little bio-security."

State Health officials say the strain of the virus found in the US is not the same strain originated in Asia which has killed 20 people. Humans can't contract this strain, but birds can transfer the virus to other birds. "This is kind of a flyaway through here for migrating birds and they seem to want to stay on our wheat fields that are close to our chicken houses."

Oklahoma is the 15th biggest poultry producing state in the country. It's a multi-million dollar business and gives a billion dollar boost to our state's economy. Bryan says he's keeping an eye on folks who walk in and out of his farm and wouldn't allow our news camera inside the barn for bio-security measures. “We would make you have a change of clothes, we have foot protectors that we put on our feet and we would make you step into a foot bath." Adger: “The foot bath contains what?” Bryan: “water and disinfectant."

He says it's great the state has banned Texas poultry from entering Oklahoma and says folks shouldn't worry about the poultry sold in neighborhood stores.