SPRINGDALE, Ark. – The United States has stopped exports of Arkansas poultry to Russia for 90 days after the discovery of a strain of avian influenza at a Tyson contractor facility. Japan also temporarily banned chicken imports from the state.
Tyson Foods Inc. and state officials have begun culling and burying 15,000 hens at a farm in northwestern Arkansas. The strain found at the farm was the low pathogenic H7N3. It is U.S. Department of Agriculture policy to eradicate all H5 and H7 subtypes of avian influenza.
Rachel Iadicicco, spokeswoman for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said that the agency culls both subtypes to ensure no mutation of the flu into strains that can infect humans. The hens were found to have antibodies for the strain, showing exposure to the virus, but did not have full bird flu infections. The discovery was made during routine pre-slaughter testing.
“This shows the system is working,” said Iadicicco. “It prevents a larger problem from occurring in the future.
Both Tyson and APHIS have said there is no risk to human health in this instance. Tyson also said that the birds will not enter the food chain.