From the National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation, USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, and U.S. Poultry & Egg Association:
This movie is a sensationalized Hollywood production that is complete fiction and bears no resemblance to anything actually going on in the world today. Even the experts supposedly consulted by the movie’s producers are expressing doubts about the film. The film is simply another in a long line of disaster movies that have covered “earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, fires, locusts, vampire bats, killer bees, nuclear annihilation, (and) meteor showers,” as one reviewer put it.
There is no highly transmissible, usually fatal pandemic form of human influenza in the world today. A disease that does actually exist among animals is Asian avian influenza — H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza. A limited number of human beings who have had very close contacts with live, infected birds have gotten this disease. The virus that causes it has never been detected in North America. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this disease has not developed the ability to pass easily to humans or from human to human — which is the scenario suggested by the movie.
Since we do not have the H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza virus in North America at the present time, there is no danger that anyone in North America will get “bird flu” from poultry. Furthermore, there is no danger of getting “bird flu” from handling or eating poultry products, since we do not have the virus and normal and proper handling and cooking of poultry would kill the virus even if it was in the product, which it is not.
ABC-TV has agreed to run a disclaimer in the movie that will state that it is a work of fiction, and that the pandemic virus that is the subject of the movie is different from the H5N1 strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza currently circulating among domestic poultry in Asia and some other parts of the world. While we regret ABC’s decision to sensationalize the “bird flu” situation, we commend the network for running the disclaimer, which makes it clear that no one should take this film seriously.
The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce, process and market chickens. Member companies of NCC account for approximately 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States. Contact: Richard L. Lobb, (202) 296-2622 ext. 19.
The National Turkey Federation is the advocate for all segments of the U.S. turkey industry, providing services and conducting activities, which increase demand for its members’ products and protect and enhance the ability to effectively and profitably provide wholesome, high quality, nutritious turkey products. Contact: Sherrie Roseblatt, (202) 898-0100.
The USA Poultry and Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) is an industry organization that promotes the export of U.S. poultry and egg products around the world. Its member companies account for more than 95 percent of all U.S. poultry and egg exports. Contact: Toby Moore, (770) 413-0006.
The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association is a national organization that represents its members in all aspects of poultry and eggs on both a national and an international level. Its mission revolves around research, education, communication, and product promotion. Contact: Sylvia Small, (770) 493-9401.