Bird flu found in Texas, unrelated to East Coast or Asian varieties


Friday, February 20th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6



WASHINGTON (AP) _ A single case of bird flu has turned up in a flock of 7,000 chickens in Texas, but the strain poses no risk to people and is unrelated to the bird flu varieties found on the East Coast or in Asia, authorities in Texas said Friday.

Laboratory tests showed that the Texas variety is low-pathogenic, creating no health threat in people and killing relatively few chickens, the Texas Animal Health Commission said.

The strain in animals on the farm in Gonzales County, in south Texas about 50 miles east of San Antonio, was identified as H5N2.

Other low-pathogenic varieties had been found in recent weeks in flocks in Delaware and Pennsylvania, and in live bird markets in the New York-New Jersey area. The different, high-pathogenic strain in Asia has killed at least 22 people in Thailand and Vietnam and infected birds in 10 Asian nations.

People can feel assured that their poultry and eggs are safe, said Dr. Bob Hillman, the Texas state veterinarian, who is executive director of the commission.

``It is not the big bad bird flu,'' said James Grimm, executive vice president of the Texas Poultry Federation, a trade group. He said he has been following the case since the poultry farmer sent tissue samples to the state lab on Tuesday for testing.

The state has quarantined the farm, and the birds will be killed this weekend and probably buried on the farm, Grimm said.

The farm raised poultry for live markets in Houston. It's possible that the bird picked up the infection at the market, Grimm said. Ducks, which are sold at the markets, commonly have avian flu, he said.