farms quarantined as state tests for 'fowl plague'"
March 11, 2003
By Gregory Smith, email@example.com
BOZRAH -- State Department of Agriculture officials should know by week's
end if birds at one of New England's largest egg farms are infected with
Eastern Connecticut egg farms continue to maintain strict biosecurity
measures while testing for the potentially devastating disease, Bruce Gresczyk,
state Department of Agriculture acting Commissioner, said.
The strain of the so-called "fowl plague" is not harmful to humans,
but is easily transmitted among fowl through mucus or manure, he said.
It is not passed through eggs.
State and local agriculture officials began an investigation at the
end of February to determine if chickens at a Bozrah-based farm were infected.
At least two of the facilities managed by Kofkoff Egg Farm are under
quarantine, according to officials. The farm is headquartered in Bozrah,
but also has sites in Lebanon, Franklin and Killingly.
"The good news is a lot of birds (tested) are not infected," Gresczyk
said after preliminary testing.
But officials still have nearly 400,000 blood samples and tracheal swabs
of the birds to test.
"This is a massive undertaking," he said.
Kofkoff officials did not return calls Monday.
State officials estimate Kofkoff handles as many as 4.7 million birds,
a large portion of the state's nearly $100-million-a-year egg industry.
Gresczyk, who declined to confirm the location of the farm, said "it's
clearly one of the biggest farms in New England."
If a breakout is confirmed, the disease could be eradicated through
vaccination or by destroying the birds.
In 2001, 16,000 chickens raised for human consumption on a Scotland
farm were destroyed and burned at local incinerators.
"To depopulate 4 million birds would decimate the industry," Michael
Darre, an animal science professor and poultry specialist at the University
of Connecticut, said. "That's pretty much every egg-laying chicken in the
As was the case in 2001, the potential outbreak has led Japan to temporarily
ban poultry imports from the United States.
Darre said egg-laying hens on an egg farm typically are transported
at the end of their egg-laying cycles.
Most do not see human consumption, but rather are processed out-of-state
as by-products for animal food or fertilizer, Darre said.
While the potentially affected birds are quarantined, vehicles and people
traveling from other egg farms are disinfected as part of the biosecurity
"If they figure one has it, all have it for security reasons," Darre
Gresczyk said waterfowl and other wild birds such as turkey have the
potential to be carriers. If avian influenza is discovered, the next step
is finding the source.