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 / Updated  / Source: NBC News

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday confirmed the first case of a lethal strain of bird flu in a commercial chicken flock, widening the impact of a virus that has already killed hundreds of thousands of turkeys this year.

The H5N2 flu strain infected a commercial flock of 200,000 chickens in Jefferson County, Wisconsin, between Madison and Milwaukee, according to the USDA. Since the beginning of the year, the flu, which can kill nearly an entire flock within 48 hours, has been found in commercial turkey operations and backyard poultry flocks stretching from Oregon to Arkansas.

The discoveries have prompted major overseas buyers, including China and Mexico, to restrict imports of U.S. poultry. Producers such as Tyson Foods Inc have strengthened measures to keep the disease off farms.

The infected chickens in Wisconsin were at an egg-laying facility, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection said. State officials quarantined the premises and birds there will be culled to prevent the spread of the disease. Chickens from the flock will not enter the food system, officials said.

No human cases of the bird flu have been detected.


-- Reuters