UPDATE 1-Suspected bird flu in Arkansas poultry threatens exports

martes 10 de marzo de 2015 19:29 GYT

(Updates with details on discovery, comments)

By Tom Polansek and P.J. Huffstutter

CHICAGO, March 10 (Reuters) - A suspected case of avian influenza has been identified in poultry in Arkansas, the third-largest U.S. turkey producer and home to Tyson Foods Inc , the nation's biggest chicken company, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Tuesday.

The infection, if confirmed, threatens to widen trading bans from countries such as Taiwan, Singapore and Nicaragua that have already restricted U.S. poultry exports due to bird flu outbreaks in states ranging from Minnesota and Missouri to California.

"There is a suspect case in Arkansas, but testing is ongoing," USDA spokeswoman Lyndsay Cole said.

Arkansas producers have been on alert for the virus since Minnesota and Missouri confirmed cases of highly pathogenic H5N2 bird flu during the past week. The Minnesota case was the first in the Mississippi flyway, a migratory route along the Mississippi River that also includes Missouri and Arkansas.

Bird flu is contagious and can spread rapidly through a flock, killing birds in as little as 48 hours. The virus has not been identified in humans and is not expected to pose a public health risk, according to USDA.

"It's in the wild bird flyway coming from Canada," Texas state veterinarian Dee Ellis said of the virus. "That's obviously how it went from Minnesota to Missouri to Arkansas."

Ellis could not confirm the Arkansas case and Tyson was not immediately available to comment.   Continuación...