Some Countries Ban U.S. Poultry Imports

Monday, February 9th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DOVER, Del. (AP) _ Some Asian countries were banning U.S. poultry imports following the outbreak of avian influenza discovered last week at a Delaware farm.

Delaware state authorities, meanwhile, spent the weekend testing chickens at 12 farms within two miles of the farm where the infected poultry was discovered, officials said.

Scientists won't release the results of a first round of tests until a second round is complete, Anne Fitzgerald, a spokeswoman for the Delaware Department of Agriculture, said Sunday. It wasn't immediately clear when the results would be released.

Officials were testing chickens at 12 farms in a two-mile radius. Fitzgerald said five farms were tested Saturday, three farms Sunday, with officials planning to test four more.

The flu strain is different from the one that has spread to the human population in Asia, and experts say there's no threat to human health. Some Asian countries, however, have banned U.S. poultry imports following the outbreak in Delaware.

Japan, Singapore and South Korea banned U.S. poultry imports, while Hong Kong and Malaysia banned the import of live birds and poultry from Delaware only.

Delaware authorities on Saturday began testing flocks near the one in Kent County, where officials on Saturday destroyed 12,000 chickens. The exact location of that farm hasn't been disclosed.

Avian influenza spreads easily among animals through nasal and eye secretions, as well as manure.

The strain found in Delaware, known as H7, has the potential to cause severe economic damage if it spreads to the commercial broiler industry, a linchpin of the region's agricultural economy.

A different form of bird flu has ravaged poultry farms across Asia, where more than 50 million chickens have been slaughtered to stem the disease's spread. At least 18 people have died in Asia from the H5N1 strain. Experts there say there's no sign the virus is changing into one that could spread widely among people.

The U.S. government has banned the import of birds from eight Southeast Asian countries.