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Bird flu found at Texas chicken farm

Pilgrim’s Pride Corp.  said a strain of bird flu has been found at chicken farm in northeast Texas operated by a contract breeder and the affected flock has been destroyed.
/ Source: Reuters

About 24,000 chickens were destroyed after avian flu was found on a Texas farm that supplies chickens to the poultry giant Pilgrim’s Pride, state officials said Friday.

Routine blood tests at the farm discovered the infection, but no symptoms were found in chickens. Pilgrim’s Pride, the second-largest poultry producer in the United States and Mexico, said the farm supplied less than 1 percent of the company’s flock.

Texas agriculture officials said the disease does not compromise the safety of cooked poultry.

“I don’t see any reason for worry on the part of consumers as a result of what we’ve seen in this flock,” said Dr. Max Coats, a poultry expert with the Texas Animal Health Commission.

The destroyed chickens did not produce eggs for consumption.

It was the second outbreak in Texas this year. Coats said the two outbreaks are unrelated.

Bird flu also has been detected in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey this year. A more severe avian influenza virus swept through 10 Asian nations earlier this year, killing or forcing the destruction of more than 100 million poultry.

The disease killed 16 people in Vietnam and eight in Thailand, but Texas animal health officials said the strains that have appeared in the United States are not fatal to humans.

The Pilgrim’s Pride farm, 110 miles east of Dallas and about five miles from the nearest neighboring commercial poultry farm, has been isolated and the flock was destroyed and buried Thursday, the commission said.

“Our first priority in Hopkins County was to ensure that the birds were promptly and humanely euthanized, then buried on site, to prevent the potential transmission of disease to other flocks,” Dr. Bob Hillman, state veterinarian and head of the commission, said in a statement.