million chickens quarantined"
March 6, 2003
HARTFORD, Connecticut (AP) -- Connecticut officials said Thursday they
have quarantined 4.7 million chickens as they investigate a possible outbreak
of avian influenza at an egg farm, a move that prompted Japan to temporarily
ban U.S. poultry imports.
Acting Agriculture Commissioner Bruce Gresczyk said samples from the
farm have been sent to a laboratory in Iowa and results are expected next
"This is a devastating disease to poultry but zero risk to humans or
any mammal," he said. He also said the disease does not affect eggs and
there are no problems with any products the farm has on the market.
Gresczyk said the particular strain suspected is considered a low-grade
pathogen and in some cases is not fatal to chickens.
But if influenza is confirmed, the state may have to destroy the flock,
Gresczyk said. State officials began investigating last week.
Gresczyk would not disclose the name of the farm, but the apparent outbreak
occurred at Kofkoff Egg Farm, said Michael Darre, a state poultry specialist
and animal science professor at the University of Connecticut. The
farm controls more than 90 percent of the state's egg market and produces
12 million eggs every week.
No one at the farm returned messages Thursday.
The egg industry is among the top agriculture businesses in Connecticut,
with annual receipts of between $60 million and $100 million.
A strain of avian influenza was disc overed in eastern Pennsylvania.
That strain resulted in the destruction of 17 million birds in addition
to hundreds of thousands that died from the disease, according to Pennsylvania
veterinarian and poultry consultant Dr. Dave Kradle.
That strain also was considered a low-risk pathogen but quickly mutated
to something more serious. It resulted in a statewide surveillance program
in Pennsylvania that remains in place today, Kradle said.
As a result of the Pennsylvania outbreak, Connecticut tightened its
security in the industry, Darre said. But wild birds such as ducks and
geese can be carriers and Connecticut is on a major migratory flight path.