Local News

Is N.C. Safe From the Bird Virus?

Posted December 29, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— There is no cure for the mysterious flu virus that has Chinese officials ordering the death of every chicken in Hong Kong. The disease has triggered fears of a worldwide epidemic after four people died from it, and is raising some questions about the poultry industry in general.

John Brake, a poultry scientist at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, is familiar with the situation in Hong Kong. He has just returned from there, where he watched the crisis unfold. Brake says that, in the US, we would be handling the crisis in a similar fashion.

Brake says such viruses arenotrare, in fact there was an outbreak of a poultry virus in NC in the 1930s which almost totally eliminated the poultry industry. The reason for the panic over the Hong Kong outbreak, says Brake, is that no one knows of another case where the disease was passed from bird to human.

Brake says he sees no reason for real concern about further spread of the Hong Kong virus.

Brake says that, while the Chinese are handling this situation much as it would be handled here, their day-to-day handling of chicken is quite different.

Scientists are working to track the virus, but so far, the flu remains a mystery. Editor's Note:

NC Commissioner of Agriculture, Jim Graham, issued a press release Monday afternoon. The release stated that NC poultry are routinely checked for viruses under one of the best surveillance programs in the country.

Photographer:Lori Foushee