Avian Flu Antibodies Found In Virginia Farmer's Turkeys

July 14, 2007

The loss from the discovery of avian influenza antibodies in turkeys at a Shenandoah County farm could be up to $600,000, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The USDA will reimburse the farmer the fair market value of the 54,000 turkeys in which the antibodies were discovered during routine pre-slaughter testing on July 6. The cost of destroying and disposing of the birds also will be paid, said Karen Eggert of the USDA'S Animal Health Inspection Service.

No new cases of avian flu antibodies have been detected in ongoing testing near the farm, Virginia Poultry Federation President Hobey Bauhan said.

The antibodies were most consistent with the low-pathogenic H5N1
strain of the avian influenza A, which poses no threat to humans, a Department of Agriculture statement said.

The discovery of the antibodies has led to increased precautions, including additional testing of flocks, especially within 6 miles of the farm that had the turkeys.

The discovery of the flock with avian flu antibodies prompted Virginia's state veterinarian to ban all live poultry sales and shows until July 30, as well as the application of poultry litter on fields in 17 counties in and near the Shenandoah Valley.

The poultry industry is a major economic contributor in the Shenandoah Valley, where about 900 of the state's 1,200 commercial poultry farms are located.

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