Bird Flu Creates Holiday Worries - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

11/18/05

Bird Flu Creates Holiday Worries

The Avian Flu is no stranger to the US poultry industry. "The industry has dealt with several outbreaks of low pathogen avian flu influenza with other avian disease - they know the routine they've been through this before," says Animal Biosecurity specialist, Barrett Slenning. Barrett adds that there is little chance of infected poultry entering the US food chain - but notes that concern over the lethal H5N1 Avian Strain overseas has heightened awareness.

"We also have very intensive surveillance programs going on run by the industry as well as by usda in live birds as well in food safety inspection system during processing," says Barrett. But it's not the bird that comes from the processing plant that health officials worry about. "The danger are the backyard birds the quote on quote game birds that are used for fighting or decorative purposes," says Barrett. 

In addition, every day, thousands of live birds are shipped across states to farms and collectors. A 2003 survey in north carolina found more than 70 percent of birds moving through the US postal service in three cities had no papers to prove they were healthy.  "If one had a disease it could be spread to the other," says Joseph Reardon of the Food & Drug Protection Division. And there are concerns live bird markets and smuggling. As for worries over the thanksgiving turkey. "So the biggest worry is that we cook it sufficiently so we don't mess-up that way which is the standard way people get hurt from food," says Barrett. 

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