Mississippi farmers are staying alert following a bird flu outbreak in four surrounding states. If the disease crosses state lines, the state's poultry industry could take a hit. MPB's Alexis Ware has the story.
A recent bird flu outbreak in Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky and Georgia is causing a stir for some Mississippi farmers. Avian influenza is a contagious disease found naturally in wild aquatic birds but is fatal when passed to domestic poultry. The virus may be passed through secretions of infected birds.
Mark Leggett, the president of the Mississippi Poultry Association, says an influenza outbreak could negatively impact the state's poultry trade.
"Countries that we ship poultry products to respond differently to that type of a notice. Some might say no products from the U.S. others might say none from Mississippi."
There is no treatment for birds that haven been infected with the virus.
Tom Tabler is an extension professor at Mississippi State University in the Department of Poultry Science. He urges farmers to wear clean clothes and shoes when handling their chickens to prevent spreading the disease.
He, however, is hopeful that Mississippi can remain unaffected by the outbreak.
"Every day that goes by and we have not had a report of a case we're a little bit better off. If we get to the point to where the weather is warm enough that we have multiple days in a row where the temperature is around 85 degrees. That's pretty much going to eliminate the avian influenza threat because the avian influenza virus cannot stand very much heat."
Tabler says for now, farmers should limit their interaction with other farms and should avoid adding any new chickens to their flocks. The Centers for Disease Control says the avian influenza does not usually infect humans, but rare cases have been reported.