Bird Flu Case Causes U.S. Poultry Bans

An outbreak of bird flu in the state of Delaware has led several Asian nations to ban imports of U.S. poultry, but USDA officials are optimistic that the bans will not remain in place long.

"Once we're able to prove it's a localized area and we can show them that, I'm sure they'll reopen up their markets" to poultry from other states, Alisa Harrison, a U.S. Agriculture Department spokeswoman said on Sunday.

Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, China and Singapore have banned all U.S. poultry imports, while Russia has banned poultry from Delaware.

Japan, which had previously banned poultry imports from Rhode Island and Connecticut due to a bird flu outbreak last year, was trying to confirm details of the latest cases, Agriculture Minister Yoshiyuki Kamei told reporters. He did not say how long the ban would last.

Japanese newspapers reported Sunday that Tokyo might lift the ban on poultry from all but the three U.S. states recently afflicted by the bird flu if Japanese officials can confirm the latest strain isn't harmful to people.

Delaware's agriculture secretary said Friday that the strain of flu virus found in that state was H7, which is different from the H5N1 strain that has swept across Asia, killing at least 19 people and devastating the poultry industry there. The H7 strain is fatal to poultry, but is not transmissible to humans.

Some 12,000 chickens were slaughtered Saturday at a farm in southern Delaware, where two birds tested positive for the H7 flu virus.

Editors note: Richard Brock, The Corn and Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.

To see more market perspectives, visit Brock's Web site at www.brockreport.com.