"Tests show no signs of avian influenza at 2 farms"
(The News-Times)
2003-03-20

BOZRAH, Conn. (AP) - State agriculture officials say they expect test results to show no signs of avian influenza at last two Kofkoff egg farms to be inspected for the disease.

Acting Department of Agriculture Commissioner Bruce Gresczyk told The Day of New London that he expected negative results from farms on Shailor Hill Road in Colchester and East Street in Hebron.

Kofkoff, which controls more than 90 percent of Connecticut's egg market, owns seven facilities. Farms on Schwartz Road in Bozrah and Mack Road in Lebanon have tested positive for a mild form of avian influenza.

The outbreak prompted Japan to temporarily ban all U.S. poultry imports. Japan lifted the ban after receiving assurance that proper steps were being taken, but a ban on Connecticut poultry remains in effect.

The illness resulted in just a few bird deaths, Gresczyk said. Those that recovered have a lifetime immunity, he said.

Gresczyk said an additional round of testing would be conducted at all Kofkoff facilities to confirm the results.

In late February, Kofkoff officials noticed a suspicious drop in egg production and notified the Agriculture Department of a possible flu outbreak.

The virus, though mild, poses a serious risk to the company's egg-laying operations and the state's agricultural economy. Kofkoff produces more than 850 million eggs annually.

In outbreaks in the last several years in Virginia and Connecticut, flocks were destroyed to prevent spread of the virus.

To avert such action, state agriculture officials hope to gain approval for a pilot program to vaccinate birds as they enter the facility.

State agriculture officials submitted the proposal Monday to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Gresczyk said he expects to hear back from the department within two weeks.