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Bird flu tests negative on 5 Delaware farms

Tests for avian flu performed on Saturday at five Delaware poultry farms within a two mile radius of an infected flock have shown no signs of the disease, a Delaware state official said on Monday.
/ Source: Reuters

Tests for avian flu performed on Saturday at five Delaware poultry farms within a two mile radius of an infected flock have shown no signs of the disease, a Delaware state official said on Monday.

The farms were among 12 facilities that state veterinarians were due to check for infection by late Monday, after discovery of the disease in a noncommercial grower’s flock on Feb. 6 forced authorities to destroy 12,000 birds over the weekend.

The state official, who asked not to be identified, said veterinarians tested five commercial farms on Saturday and three on Sunday, and were scheduled to test another on Monday. The remainder of the 12 facilities were said to contain chicks too young to be affected by the flu strain.

'No spread of the disease'
“Everything was cool in the results of the tests from Saturday. It showed no spread of the disease to those poultry farms,” the official said.

There was no word on the results of testing from facilities on Sunday or Monday. But Delaware state agriculture officials were expected to speak about test results at a press conference scheduled for Monday at 4 p.m.

Discovery of the disease last Friday in two chickens on a farm in southern Kent County, Delaware, prompted Japan and South Korea to ban imports of U.S. chicken over the weekend. Russia, the top buyer of American poultry, said on Monday it would suspend poultry products only from Delaware.

The birds tested positive for the virulent H7 virus, which is different from the H5N1 virus in Asia. The H7 strain is fatal to poultry but does not transmit to humans.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it expected Asian countries to follow Russia’s example and regionalize their trade bans after tests confirm the Delaware virus is a low-risk strain.

State officials identified the infected farm as a noncommercial grower that did not supply major poultry producers such as Perdue Farms Inc. or Tyson Foods Inc.

“Any banning of poultry imports at this point is probably an overreaction. This was a small, noncommercial flock and there is no evidence of impact yet on our broiler industry,” Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner said in a statement released on Monday.

State officials advised poultry growers to eliminate unnecessary travel between farms to prevent spreading the flu strain.

Poultry is a multibillion-dollar industry in the Delmarva Peninsula where the infected farm is located, and is the mainstay of the local economy. The Delmarva region, which lies between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, consists of parts of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.