DOVER, Del. -- Officials responded to a new discovery of bird flu yesterday by ordering a quarantine of 80 farms and the slaughter of 72,000 more chickens. The swift action was aimed at averting more bans on US exports.
The second case of disease was found in a commercial flock of roaster-type chickens in northern Sussex County, at least 5 miles away from the farm where the first flock tested positive last week.
The chickens at the second farm were killed yesterday afternoon, said Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Michael Scuse.
Perdue Farms said it had destroyed the 72,000 chickens to prevent the spread of the disease. The company said the flock was believed to have been infected by a nearby flock of chickens that was raised for the New York City live markets.
All sales of live poultry in Delaware, all sales or auctions of farm equipment, and all farmer and grower-related meetings have been canceled. About 80 farms within a 6-mile radius of the two farms will be quarantined, state officials said. "This now is a very, very serious matter. We have a multibillion dollar industry at stake," Scuse said.
Seven nations, including some of America's largest export customers, have banned at least some poultry imports from the United States because of the bird flu cases.
Annual poultry exports total more than $1.7 billion, about $1.4 billion of it in shipments of broiler chicken. Countries that have banned US imports, including China and Japan, imported at least $245 million in US broiler chicken in the past 11 months, said David Harvey, an Agriculture Department economist.
If the avian influenza does not spread, the impact of the bans could be short-lived, said Richard Lobb, a spokesman for the National Chicken Council, a producers and processors trade group. Yesterday, China joined Poland, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and South Korea in banning US poultry imports.