Suspected case of bird flu in Arkansas

by Erica Shaffer
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The US Department of Agriculture reported a suspected case of avian influenza in a turkey flock in Arkansas. USDA said testing is ongoing.

Commercial-poultry producers in Arkansas have been on high alert since H5N2 was confirmed in a commercial turkey flock in Pope County, Minn. It is the first finding in the Mississippi flyway, a migratory route that includes Arkansas, home to Springdale-based Tyson Foods Inc., the biggest poultry company in the United States.

Worth Sparkman, a spokesman for Tyson Foods Inc., said no flocks grown for the company have been diagnosed with avian influenza.

“There are always biosecurity measures in place on poultry farms and we've been even more diligent since AI has been in the US this winter,” he said.

The suspected case in Arkansas has raised concerns about more poultry bans by US trading partners. More than 40 countries implemented poultry bans on imports from Minnesota following confirmation of the H5N2 outbreak. The affected premises were quarantined, and the birds were culled.

The Arkansas Livestock & Poultry Commission published a final rule aimed at preventing the introduction of avian influenza into the state. For example, all live poultry, hatching eggs, domesticated waterfowl, waterfowl being transported into Arkansas or other avian species must be accompanied by an official veterinary certificate stating the birds were examined and declared free of any signs of highly pathogenic avian influenza strains H5 and H7. Also, any personnel from a foreign country or an area known or suspected of having a bird-flu outbreak must be quarantined for three days from live poultry or other avian species. Individual companies are responsible for enforcing the quarantine protocol.
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