First case of avian flu in US already affects poultry exports

China and Mexico have suspended imports of US poultry from the state of Indiana after the first case of bird flu in the United States was reported there last week. The US Department of Agriculture has now confirmed that two other farms have been affected, in Kentucky and Virginia. 

The United States is the largest poultry producer in the world, according to the ministry. The authorities have placed the affected locations in quarantine. The birds present will be slaughtered to prevent further spread. No human cases have been identified so far, and the epizootic is not a public health problem, authorities say.

Tyson Foods, one of the largest chicken producers in the United States, says it has stepped up its prevention measures, particularly on the East Coast. For example, the group has limited the number of visitors to their farms and has extended the cleaning time for vehicles driving to the farms.

The U.S. poultry industry remains vigilant to avoid a repeat of the 2015 bird flu epidemic, which infected more than two hundred farms at the time. Then nearly 50 million birds had to be killed and several countries stopped importing. The ministry estimates total losses at the time at about $3.3 billion.

Europe has been in the midst of an avian flu epidemic for several months, with more than 18 million poultry in Italy and France since the first cases were discovered there in late November.