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U.S. bird flu cases have local farmers on guard

Courtesy of USDA
A chicken shows signs of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza: Swelling of the tissue around the eyes and neck.

Delaware poultry farmers are on alert after a recent outbreak of bird flu devastated a Tennessee farm.



More than 73,000 birds on a southern Tennessee farm that supplies chickens for Tyson Foods were killed after federal officials identified a case of deadly bird flu in the flock. 


For Delaware poultry farmers, this is a wake up call that the virus could be nearby.


“The Delaware Department of Agriculture has really been preparing for Avian Influenza since the last time we had it back in 2004 and we haven’t stopped preparing because the chicken industry is such a large part of our economic impact in Delaware,” said Stacey Hofmann, a spokeswoman for the department.


Hofmann said the path migratory birds take through Tennessee is not the same as the one birds use in Delaware, but they eventually meet at their Arctic breeding grounds. Once they leave during the fall, that’s when it’s possible the virus might spread down the Mid-Atlantic.


State officials and industry groups say farmers should remember to wear disposable clothing inside chicken houses to prevent the spread of the virus. Hofmann said farmers should also limit the amount of visitors to the chicken houses.


A turkey farm in Wisconsin also reported a less serious case of bird flu, but it didn’t require the culling of an entire flock.

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