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Lethal Avian Flu Detected in Tyson Foods Chickens

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Officials reported that a flock of Tyson Foods chickens tested positive for a lethal form of avian flu. The testing showed that a flock of 240,000 chickens tested positive for h5N1 avian flu.

RELATED: Tyson Recalls 8.5 Million Chickens Over Listeria Fears

Broiler Chickens Tested Positive for Avian Flu  

Broiler chickens hailing from Fulton County in Kentucky tested positive for a lethal form of avian flu. Officials managed to detect the presence of the H5N1 virus after widespread testing in the area. Tyson Foods owned the broilers that tested positive in Fulton County. 

The infections triggered restrictions on US exports of poultry. China immediately blocked the importation of chicken products from Kentucky. Earlier, China and South Korea importers limited their poultry purchases from Indiana. A commercial turkey farm reported that its birds contracted avian flu.  

Broiler Chickens Infected with H5N1 Strain 

The broiler chickens that tested positive for H5N1 came from Fulton County, Kentucky, The area shares a border with Tennessee. Officials said that the chickens shared the same H5N1 strain with the infected turkeys in Indiana. As a result, Kentucky declared its first outbreak of avian flu since 2015. That year, the virus killed more than 50 million chickens and turkeys in the US.  

Consequently, the government will cull all birds from the infected flock. They will not end up in the state’s food system. At present, Tyson Foods is working with government authorities to prevent the virus from spreading to other farms. According to spokesperson Gary Mickelson, Tyson also heightened safety measures in all of its facilities and partner growers. 

Tyson Food Chicken Products Still Safe To Eat

Mickelson also said that Tyson Foods chicken products in the market remain safe to eat. The farm in Fulton County is just one of the thousands of farms that raise chickens for the company. Tyson does not expect the outbreak to affect overall chicken production. Other farms deemed safe from the avian flu will come in and pick up the slack. 

For turkeys, however, Kentucky officials are still monitoring the situation. They are waiting for test results for a suspected outbreak in Webster County, Kentucky involving turkeys. Outside of the Bluegrass state, officials also detected an avian flu outbreak in Fauquier County, Virginia. Officials already culled the birds in question so they do not present an immediate health concern. 

Avian Flu Being Spread By Wild Birds

Experts are suspecting that wild birds are the ones spreading the Avian flu virus. Earlier testing showed that dozens of birds in the wild along the US east coast tested positive for H5N1.  

An uncontrolled spread of the avian flu among US poultry can spell danger to the industry. The US is the world’s largest producer and second-largest exporter of poultry products. Kentucky is ranked seventh among the states that produce chicken meat. The US exports around 18% of all its poultry products. As a result, the country is a major consumer of feed grains. 

Wrong Time for an Avian Flu Outbreak 

The avian flu outbreak is breaking out at exactly the wrong time. Poultry production is already lower compared to previous years due to strong demand and a lack of workers. The recent COVID surge further reduced the number of available workers to process poultry products. As a result, US frozen chicken supplies reported a decline of 14% from a year ago. Meanwhile, turkey inventories also went down by 23% during the same period.

Watch the Bloomberg Quicktake Now video reporting that bird flu reaches more states, raising the prospect of new curbs

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