Results of Avian Influenza Test Indicate No Risk to Human Health; Affected chickens to be depopulated to protect other, area birds
Tyson Foods is working cooperatively with the USDA and the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission to manage a flock of breeder hens that has been exposed to a low pathogenic strain of avian influenza (LPAI). Preliminary tests on the flock indicate the presence of antibodies for H7N3 avian influenza, however, there is no indication the birds currently have the virus.
The 15,000 chickens involved show no signs of illness and the situation poses no risk to human health.
The affected birds are at the farm of a contract poultry producer in northwest Arkansas. The discovery came as part of routine, pre-slaughter surveillance conducted by the company. The strain involved is low pathogenic H7N3. It is not the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus that has previously affected birds in Asia, Europe and Africa.
Even though the affected birds do not currently have the virus, the flock is being depopulated today as a precautionary measure and will not enter the human food chain. While the birds’ exposure to this strain of avian influenza poses no risk to human health, USDA’s policy is to eradicate all H5 and H7 subtypes.
As a preventative measure, Tyson is also stepping up its surveillance of avian influenza in the area. The company plans to test all breeder farms that serve the local Tyson poultry complex, as well as any farms within a ten mile radius of the affected farm.
The increased surveillance is in addition Tyson’s existing testing program, which involves the company checking all flocks for avian influenza before they leave the farm. The test results are known before the birds are shipped to a Tyson plant for processing.
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