China Joins Ban on Arkansas Poultry After Bird Flu

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China has joined other countries and a U.S. state in a ban on imports of poultry and poultry products from Arkansas after a strain of avian influenza was found at a Scott County farm in June, a state official said.

Russia, Japan, Turkey, Hong Kong and in the U.S., Mississippi and Georgia, already placed a ban on the products at the end of last month.

However, Mississippi since has come off the list of countries or states banning Arkansas poultry, said Dr. Brandon Doss, of the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission.

Doss said Georgia and the other countries besides China are expected to end their bans on Oct. 24, or 90 days after the July 24 cleaning and disinfecting of the Scott County farm where bird flu was discovered in June. He said it is unclear when China might end its ban.

U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., said China is "being unfair" by banning poultry from all of Arkansas over an isolated incident.

"Our products are safe, healthy, and nutritious," he said in a prepared statement. "I’ll be working with food safety and trade officials to resolve this issue as quickly as possible and reopen this market for our farmers. In the meantime, my family and I will continue to eat Arkansas poultry, and I know others in our state will do the same."

The state Livestock and Poultry Commission received confirmation of the positive test on June 18 and quarantined all poultry within a 6.2-mile radius of the Scott County chicken house facility where the infected bird was located, according to Gov. Mike Beebe’s office.

Preston Scroggin, director of the state Livestock and Poultry Commission, said 18 chickens from that farm in Boles were found to have Avian Influenza, commonly known as bird flu. Those birds were killed, as were 9,000 other chickens that were destroyed in the area as a precaution. He said the bird flu incident was isolated to one farm.

Last month, Scroggin said the state completed its follow-up testing of chickens in Scott County and found no new evidence bird flu.

“We feel real good where we’re at. We think we got it,” Scroggin told 5NEWS. “For all intents and purposes, we’re done with our testing.”

Scroggin said the follow-up testing ended July 8-9 on about 10 commercial chicken houses and 52 “backyard flocks,” with none turning up any evidence of bird flu.

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