State's poultry workers look to avoid avian flu

US - Officials say it's unlikely that the lethal H5N1 strain of bird flu will travel from Asia to the United States. But if it does, Georgia's poultry companies are confident they can keep the disease from spreading.

About 50 chicken growers, producers and industry executives attended a closed meeting Wednesday afternoon at Gainesville State College, arranged by U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, R-Gainesville.

They listened to a panel of experts that included Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and John Clifford, chief veterinary officer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Afterward, Deal characterized the event as "a very successful discussion." "The overall conclusion that all of us reached is that chicken in this country is safe to eat and will continue to be that way," he said.

Millions of birds in Asia and Eastern Europe either have died from the H5N1 flu or been slaughtered in an attempt to contain the virus. There also have been 133 cases of the disease in humans, including 68 deaths.

But Gerberding said nearly all of those cases occurred in people who lived or worked closely with birds. "We have found only two documented cases of person-to-person transmission in Asia," she said.

Source: GainsvilleTimes
calendar icon 1 December 2005
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