HATTIESBURG, Miss – The birds are migrating south for the winter to stay warm, however the poultry business and several other avian and animal institutions are more alert this year. The first occurrence of the Avian Influenza was earlier this spring in Minnesota and Iowa. The virus is call H5N2, which can infect and kill chickens.
Dr. Stayer of Sanderson Farms says, “We have taken another step beyond our regular protocols, and also have footwear for each house. Even though when they (growers) go from house to house they will not be wearing the same footwear from across the yard.”
The avian influenza can influence Mississippi’s economy, but the Poultry Association is taking all the steps to prevent that from happening.
State Veterinarian, Dr. Watson, assures the public that the Avian Flu is related only related to poultry and does not transmit to humans, however, the flu does influence the economic status of the Mississippi state. He says, “Earlier in the year the outbreak resulted in over 200 poultry farms being affected mainly in Minnesota and Iowa. Forty-nine million birds being affected and over a billion dollars’ worth of money being spent to address the disease. It’s primary an economic disease and a disease that impacts famers.
According to Mark Leggett, president of the Mississippi Poultry Association says, “Farmers are paid about 2.7 billion dollars every year to raise those chickens. The total economic impact, when you add the farmer part, the processing, the people that are paid by the industry to the things that they buy, the total economic impact on the state is about 20 million dollars.”
From the Governor’s office down to the Commissioners Agriculture Department, the poultry association is working together to ensure a quick and safe response if an outbreak occurs.
Dr. Stayer and Dr. Watson emphasize that this Influenza is non-transmissible to humans. Dr. Stayers says to always wash your hands before every meal to minimize viruses being spread this flu season.