Around 240,000 chickens were killed after a bird flu outbreak at a Tyson Foods farm in Kentucky in the United States, government officials said on Monday.
China blocked the import of chicken meat products from Kentucky. Last week, China and Korea limited bird meat products from Indiana due to a bird flu outbreak at a commercial turkey farm there.
Officials said that the chickens in Kentucky were infected with the highly pathological H5N1 strain of bird flu.
Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said that chicken meat production would not be lowered because Tyson works with thousands of chicken farms.
Bird flu was also detected in a backyard flock of birds in Fauquier County, Virginia, the US Department of Agriculture said. The animals were killed and their bodies burnt.
Intensive farming and bird flu
According to the US government, the United States is the world’s largest producer and second-largest exporter of chicken and turkey meat.
Industrial animal factories are one of the reasons bird flu has become deadlier and spreading faster, environmental organizations ad experts said.
“There, the conditions are ideal for the proliferation of these viruses,” Greenpeace said about industrial animal farms. “Large farms are a source of infection for these birds.
Dutch virologist Thijs Kuiken said that the highly pathogenic, sickening form of bird flu (H5N1) emerged due to intensive bird farming. “Normally, wild birds only carry the low-pathogenic variant. In intensive poultry farming, this mild flu mutated into a serious variant,” Kuiken said.
“We have to realize that the intensive way of raising animals, with a huge number of animals huddled together in one spot, is no longer sustainable for many reasons.”
Foxes, otters, seals and humans have also been infected with bird flu. In January, England reported its first human case of bird flu.
In 2015, more than 50 million American chickens and turkeys were killed after bird flu outbreaks.