Tyson on alert after bird flu case in Tennessee

A deadly form of bird flu has been confirmed in a southern Tennessee chicken flock, prompting Singapore and South Korea to suspend the imports of live poultry from the U.S. state. Reuters reported Monday that Pilgrim's Pride, the world's second-largest chicken producer, "immediately activated [avian influenza] response plans and heightened on-farm biosecurity programs at all Pilgrim's facilities".

Shares of Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN) are on watch after the USDA confirmed a case of avian influenza at a Tyson-contracted farm in Tennessee.

"We're responding aggressively and working with state and federal officials to contain the virus", Tyson said in a company release. This includes the quarantine of 30 other poultry farms within the 6.2-mile (10-kilometer) radius from the infected site while the testing of other flocks in the area continued. "This not only prevents the potential spread of disease, it is more humane for the infected birds".

Hoffman said DE officials will continue to monitor the situation to protect growers.

"This is the first confirmed case of HPAI in commercial poultry in the United States this year", it said in a statement.

Tyson collected samples from an Alabama farm in the zone, and they tested negative for the virus, according to the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries. If you do touch something, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.

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HPAI does not pose a threat to the food supply, and no affected animals entered the food chain, the statement said.

At this point, there have been no reported cases of human bird flu infection in the US though. The 2014 to 2015 outbreak involved an H5N2 strain.

Bird flu usually just affects birds.

The virus found in Tennessee has been identified as an H7 virus, most likely spread from wild birds in North America. Symptoms mirror the regular flu with a fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches to lower respiratory disease.

There have been a rising number of reports of Avian influenza outbreaks in Europe and Asia this year. So far those labeled H5, H7, and h10 have caused human casualties.

  • Marjorie Miles