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Is N.C. Safe From the Bird Virus?

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Chickens in NC aren't likely to be affected by the virus in China.
RALEIGH — There is no cure for the mysterious flu virusthat has Chinese officials ordering the death of every chicken in HongKong. The disease has triggered fears of a worldwide epidemic after fourpeople died from it, and is raising some questions about the poultryindustry in general.

John Brake, a poultry scientist at North Carolina State University inRaleigh, is familiar with the situation in HongKong. 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 similarfashion.

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

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

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

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

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

Photographer:Lori Foushee

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