Bird flu worries poultry producers
SALEM — Commercial poultry producers say they're concerned the outbreak of highly pathogenic bird flu virus found in Washington and Oregon will hurt exports by prompting some nations to impose trade barriers.
"It's probably going to be a problem anyway because some countries aren't going to properly distinguish between backyard and commercial," flocks, export council President James Sumner told Capital Press. "This likely will have repercussions that will impact the entire U.S. industry."
Sumner said China already bans poultry imports from five states because of cases of low pathogenic bird flu.
He said he hoped the U.S. Department of Agriculture would be able to convince other countries to continue buying U.S. poultry by showing the virus has not spread to commercial producers.
Officials suspect that wild ducks that breed in Alaska and northeast Asia have spread the virus to the U.S.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture announced last week that a strain of highly pathogenic bird flu virus, H5N8, had been found in a flock of 100 guinea fowl and chickens in the southern Oregon town of Winston. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has quarantined the Winston yard and will dispose of any surviving birds
The spot is along the Pacific Flyway, where the birds could easily have contact with wild birds carrying the virus while migrating south for the winter, department spokesman Bruce Pokarney said.
Both the H5N2 and H5N8 strains of the virus were found in Washington state. The state Department of Agriculture reported H5N2 in a wild northern pintail duck found in Whatcom County. A captive gyrfalcon that was fed a wild duck from the same area died of H5N8.
In British Columbia, 11 poultry farms have been quarantined after discovery of the virus, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
Many countries, including the United States, have imposed restrictions on Canadian poultry and eggs.
The USDA said Friday that it has reported the Oregon case to the World Organization of Animal Health, and is working with other countries to minimize trade impacts.
The last outbreak of highly pathogenic bird flu in the United States was in 2004, when 7,000 chickens in Texas were infected.