Poultry farmers on front line of bird flu defense
| 11.14.2005 | 05:11:09 | Views: 2871 | ID:
November 14 '05: Poultry farmers in the US will prove to be on the front lines of defense in the event that the avian flu virus find its way into the country. USA Today reported Monday that many of the health regulations which have been in place for years to protect domestic flocks against disease keep domestic birds out of site and out of range of their wild counterparts.
"Workers enter barns only if they're wearing coveralls, boots and hairnets, which are later washed or discarded so workers don't inadvertently spread viruses," the paper wrote.In addition to workers' regulatory washings and clothes chagings, trucks carrying bird feed "are hosed down before driving onto the farm." The poultry industry says it is well protected but a recent Department of Agriculture study showed a weakness in the "thousands of small backyard flocks raised for eggs or as hobbies," on farms across the country. In addition, "more than 100 live bird markets in major cities that largely cater to immigrant populations," are seen as areas of concern, the study found. However, John el-Attrache, an assistant professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University told the paper, "We have a very proactive industry, but there is always the chance of lax biosecurity." There are fears a global pandemic could start should the avian flu virus mutate from a bird-born disease into one easily transmissible for humans. Reuters reported Monday Indonesian health officials saying a 20-year-old woman was killed by the virus while several other cases of human infection were reported over the last few days. "Adding to the sense of alarm, researchers in Vietnam say the H5N1 avian flu virus has mutated allowing it to replicate more easily inside humans and other mammals," Reuters reported. So far the virus has infected 125 people in Asia resulting in 64 deaths.
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