Published Date: 2008-06-04 10:00:23
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Avian influenza (72): USA (AR), LPAI H7
Archive Number: 20080604.1782
AVIAN INFLUENZA (72): USA (ARKANSAS), LPAI H7
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Tue 3 June 2008
Source: Reuters [edited]
Tyson Foods Inc, the 2nd largest US chicken producer, said on Tuesday
[3 Jun 2008] it will destroy about 15 000 chickens in Arkansas
exposed to a mild strain of bird flu, and while there was no risk to
human health the news sent its shares lower.
The affected chickens, which will not enter the food supply, had
antibodies of a mild or low pathogenic strain of bird flu called H7N3.
It is the deadly high pathogenic H5N1 strain, which has never been
found in the United States, that worries scientists because it has
spread to and killed people around the world.
While the findings are no threat to humans, shares of US chicken
companies dropped as investors worried foreign buyers may ban US
chicken. The United States exports about 16 percent of its chicken,
and a loss of key overseas markets could create a glut of chicken
There have been previous cases of mild bird flu in the United States.
Last year  government investigators found cases in 13 states.
Because of the Arkansas findings the US Agriculture Department (USDA)
already has suspended shipments of chicken from that state to Russia,
the top overseas market for US chicken. One concern is Russia may
implement a broader ban. "The Russians might say nothing or they may
ban all sales from us. There is no predicting what they will do," said
Paul Aho, economist with the consulting firm Poultry Perspective.
In addition to Tyson's shares, shares of top chicken producer
Pilgrim's Pride Corp and smaller rival Sanderson Farms Inc also were
lower on Tuesday [3 Jun 2008].
"By itself, the ban of exports from Arkansas doesn't necessarily
change the momentum of the export business," Jonathan Feeney,
Wachovia food industry analyst, said in a note to clients. He said
chicken can just be exported from other states.
While the stock market may be justified "to give some pause to the
news," Feeney said the drop in chicken company shares seems overdone.
"Honestly, it's a non-event. So far, it's not something that's
reportable to any international monitoring agency like the World
Organization for Animal Health (OIE)," said Toby Moore, spokesman for
the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council, an industry trade group.
The Arkansas chickens were not sick and the antibodies were
discovered as part of routine surveillance by the company, Tyson said
in a statement.
Shares of Tyson Foods fell more than 9 percent on New York Stock
Exchange trading on Tuesday [3 Jun 2008], but by early afternoon were
down about 8 percent, or USD 1.44, at USD 17.01.
While tests showed the birds had antibodies for the mild bird flu
strain, "there was no indication the birds currently have the virus,"
the company said.
[Byline: Bob Burgdorfer]
ProMED-mail Rapporteur Mary Marshall
[Occasionally, outbreaks of low pathogenic H7 avian influenza are
seen in the United States and elsewhere. In this instance, only
antibodies for the virus were found and there is no report of active,
clinical infection and certainly no evidence whatsoever of the kind
of public health avian influenza threat seen elsewhere around the
world recently. It does seem that the surveillance system was
effective in finding evidence of exposure to the virus despite the
lack of a current outbreak.
The effect is a mostly economic one on the market and whereas I, as
an epidemiologist, would have had more faith that the poultry are
safe because the surveillance system is working, commodities traders
must have seen it just the other way, as markets dropped. I guess a
difference of opinion and perspective like this makes the world go
The 2nd layer of this onion is, of course, what trade restriction
will result from this non-event, but the extent and depth of the
expected trade embargoes is not strictly correlated with the kind of
infection occurring presently in the field. - Mod.PC
The state of Arkansas in the southern United States can be located on
the HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map at
<http://healthmap.org/promed?v=40,-97.6,4>. - CopyEd.MJ]