Fear of bird flu takes toll in U.S.

PHILADELPHIA — From his poultry shop in Philadelphia’s low-income Kensington neighborhood, Tony Tranh sells about 300 live birds each week, mainly to poor Asian and Hispanic immigrants.

He used to sell 600 live chickens, guinea hens, ducks and pigeons a week, but that was before the avian flu scare.

“The people are scared,” said Tranh, the owner of Mac’s Poultry.

Not without reason. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture temporarily closed two of Philadelphia’s five live-bird markets last year after mild strains of avian flu virus were detected during routine inspections. Those strains were different from the lethal H5N1 strain and posed no threat to humans, the agency said.

But as the deadly H5N1 strain moves through Europe and parts of the Middle East and Africa, U.S. and state agriculture officials are taking no chances. They’ve increased avian flu testing at live-bird markets in 21 states, including Pennsylvania, New York, California, Texas and Florida.

The heightened surveillance comes as the United States prepares, beginning in April, to ramp up avian flu testing of wild birds that are making their seasonal migration through Alaska after wintering in Asia.

The nation’s $53 billion chicken industry also began a self-funded effort recently to test all commercial chicken flocks for avian flu before the birds are sent for processing.

Source: The Olympian Online
calendar icon 6 March 2006
clock icon 1 minute read
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