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Avian flu incident costs state export dollars, poses no health risk

6/28/2013 at 12:00 a.m.

While the situation was quickly contained and poses no public-health risk, the recent confirmation of H7N7 Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza on a Scott County chicken farm is starting to cost the state trading partners.

Three countries — China, Japan and Russia — and two states — Mississippi and Georgia — have banned poultry imports from Arkansas. Hong Kong, in addition, has banned poultry from Scott County.

“It’s a serious issue for the state’s economy … poultry is a big business,” Preston Scroggin, director of the Arkansas Livestock & Poultry Commission, told members of the House and Senate ag committees. He added that the loss of exports “could run into the hundreds of millions.” 

The bans are expected to be in place for at least 90 days, which is how long the Commission-imposed quarantine is set to last. The quarantine affects all poultry within a 6.2-mile radius of where the infected birds were found. As an added precaution, Tyson Foods and the Commission euthanized the entire 9,000-head flock to which the infected birds belonged.   

“There’s absolutely nothing here for consumers to be worried about,” said Travis Justice, Arkansas Farm Bureau livestock specialist. “The birds in question were part of a breeding flock and were never intended to be part of the meat supply. Furthermore, this episode shows us just how well the system we have in place works. The sick birds were quickly identified, and the situation was isolated and contained. That's exactly how it's supposed to happen.” 

Posted by Chris Wilson at 1:31 p.m.

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