More chickens culled in Texas outbreak of avian flu

Jun 3, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – Another flock of about 24,000 chickens was sacrificed this week near the site of an outbreak of avian influenza in Texas after screening tests indicated possible infection, according to the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC).

A flock of 24,000 chickens in Hopkins County in northeastern Texas was euthanized last week after tests indicated the presence of an H7N3 avian flu virus. This week, preliminary tests of a second flock, located about 5 miles from the first one and owned by the same company, suggested some of the chickens had the virus, the TAHC said in a news release yesterday.

"The owners decided to voluntarily dispose of the flock on site at the farm as a prudent pre-emptive measure, even though no increased mortality was noted," the TAHC said. Pilgrim's Pride Corp. owned the flocks.

The National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, was doing confirmatory tests of samples from the second flock, but results were not yet available, the TAHC said. The virus has not been isolated from either flock. Officials have said the virus may have low pathogenicity, because there was little evidence of increased death or illness in the flocks.

The TAHC statement also said many noncommercial poultry flocks in the area have been tested, but results were not yet available. Tests so far have included 48 flocks within 5 miles of the infected farm and another 53 flocks between 5 and 10 miles from the farm, the agency said.

In other recent developments, Canadian officials announced May 28 that all infected poultry in the avian flu outbreak area near Vancouver, B.C., had been destroyed. The announcement didn't specify how many birds had been killed to contain the outbreak, though officials originally had estimated that the toll would be 19 million. Avian flu was found in 42 commercial poultry flocks and 11 backyard flocks, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

"The response effort is now entering the recovery phase, shifting from depopulation to decontamination and surveillance," a CFIA statement said. Controls on the movement of birds and bird products will continue, the agency said.

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