The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that the case of H5N2 avian influenza (AI) in a live-bird market supply flock in Texas reported last week has been characterized as highly pathogenic. This is the form of AI that causes higher mortality in poultry. However, H5N2 has not been known to be any threat to human health, even in the highly pathogenic form, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The last outbreak of highly pathogenic AI (also an H5N2) in the United States was in Pennsylvania in 1983-84.
The Texas flock was destroyed on Saturday, February 21. All flocks within a five-mile radius of the infected flock have been tested and are clear of the virus. All flocks within a 10-mile radius will be tested by the end of Tuesday. State and federal officials and the commercial industry are doing all the things necessary to make sure this incident will be contained and eliminated.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza is a reportable disease under international rules. Our government is presenting the facts of the situation to other countries, and we hope that the trade repercussions will be limited.
The Texas flock was on a farm that supplies bird to the live-bird market system in the Houston area. The first flock in Delaware was also a live-bird market supply flock. Animal health experts have been concerned for years that the live-bird market system serves to circulate the virus from flock to market and back again. We support the program being developed by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to get better control of the live-bird market system.
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.