Avian Influenza Found In Breeder Flock In East Texas

Poultry is a thriving industry in the Hopkins County Area. And to protect it chicken breeders take every precaution. "Anytime we go in the houses, we spray disinfectant on our shoes to kill anything because there is so much money in this. We want to keep Pilgrim's Pride happy, " says Jace Anglin, a local chicken

But even with precaution, there are no guarantees. Anglin is just one of the many suppliers to Pilgrim's Pride. In a farm not far from his, a strain of the Avian Influenza was reported after a routine blood test for one of their commercial flocks on a farm northeast of Sulfur Springs. The flock of 24- thousand chickens was depopulated and buried. The Texas Animal Health Commission says consumers should not be worried. The virus is fragile and won't compromise the safety of cooked poultry or eggs. "If you heat that virus up for just a few minutes at 135 degrees farenheit, it will kill it," Mike Michalke of the Texas Animal Health Commission

While safe to consumers, the virus is still affecting the local economy. Trade has already stopped from Russia and Japan, two of the area's top importers. That means local breeders could lose millions. "There's a lot of money, in the chicken business, and I'll just have to take it and go on," says

Additional testing is now underway in every commercial farm for a 30 mile radius and also in every back-yard farm for a 10 mile radius. The chickens were buried somewhere on the farm's 400 acres to safeguard against any spread of the virus.

The farm is now quarantined and will stay that way for at least the next 30 days. Authorities say most likely it will be 90 days before trade resumes in the area.

Pilgrim's Pride officials say they have taken every precaution to ensure the safety of their products and have some of the most rigorous testing procedures in the nation. Consumers are not at risk.

Reported by: Braid Sharp bsharp@kltv.com