Pilgrim’s Pride chicken farm gets the flu

May 28, 2004, as reported by just-food.com: Avian influenza has been identified in a Pilgrim’s Pride commercial breeder flock at a contract grower’s farm in Northeast Texas. The operation whose chickens lay eggs for hatching diagnosed the flu after routine blood tests conducted on the 52-week-old hens returned positive for the virus.

The Pittsburg, Texas based poultry processor reported there was little evidence the birds were sick before the positive blood work. The lack of clinical signs of the disease is an indicator of a low-pathogenic strain, according to the Texas Animal Health Commission.

The affected farm, located about six miles from the nearest commercial poultry farm, has been isolated and the flock has been destroyed on-site to prevent the potential spread of the disease, said O.B. Goolsby, president and chief operating officer of Pilgrim's Pride.

Goolsby said the virus was discovered as part of voluntary testing procedures in cooperation with Texas Poultry Federation and State of Texas authorities.

"Our poultry testing in Texas is believed to be the most aggressive in the nation, with every breeder flock tested every ten weeks," Goolsby said. "As a result of this diligence, we believe that the virus can be contained, particularly since this flock is so far from any other poultry farms. Accordingly, we believe this development will not have a material impact on net income."

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