Mexico, China Among Countries Banning Arkansas Turkeys

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FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) – At least 40 countries, including Mexico and China, have banned Arkansas turkeys after bird flu was found in a commercial flock in Boone County, said a poultry industry spokesman on Thursday (March 12).

Some of the international markets banning Arkansas turkeys, such as Hong Kong, are only keeping out those turkeys that originated in Boone County. Other markets, including Singapore, are banning all Arkansas turkeys, said Toby Moore of the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council.

The Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission was first notified on March 8 of a potential infection of avian flu in a commercial turkey flock in Boone County, according to a commission news release.

The flock was quarantined, and samples were sent to a state veterinary diagnostic lab. The samples tested positive for bird flu and were sent to the National Veterinary Services Lab for confirmation, according to the release. On March 10, the national lab confirmed the presence of H5N2 avian flu in the samples, according to state commission’s release.

After bird flu is confirmed, many of the countries now banning Arkansas turkeys have provisions in place automatically halting imports from the affected U.S. areas, Moore said. In other countries, direct government action is required to stop the imports.

This week, bird flu has been confirmed in commercial flocks not only in Arkansas but also in Minnesota and Missouri, Moore said. The disease originated in Asia and was carried to the United States by migratory turkeys traveling first in the east-west Pacific migratory flyway and then in the Mississippi flyway, he said.

Moore said bird flu can be transmitted by an act as simple as someone walking through a field where the strain is present and unintentionally carrying it on clothing onto a commercial site. All birds in the affected commercial flocks, sometimes numbering 40,000-50,000, are killed.

The number of countries banning Arkansas turkeys ranges from 40 to 50, Moore said. Two U.S. Department of Agriculture entities are compiling lists, he said, making an exact count difficult.

Ideally, the countries banning Arkansas turkeys will lift the ban in 90 days if government tests prove the strain no longer exists in the previously affected areas, Moore said

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