Three farms in far south Georgia ordered eggs or chicks from an Iowa farm that initially showed no signs of avian influenza, but later tested positive. State veterinarian Dr. Robert Cobb says late last week, the USDA alerted Georgia and 36 other states of the possibility that the birds had been exposed.
Cobb dispatched teams Tuesday to seize and slaughter those flocks.
"We are depopulating all their poultry so that there will be no birds present, no eggs present on any of these premises," says Cobb, "ensuring that just in case any of ours were to have come [into contact] with these poultry that they are no longer here."
The USDA will reimburse the owners with an agreed-upon price which Cobb says is fair.
"We have worked out an agreement to pay them for their poultry," says Cobb.
Dr. Cobb says as the nation's top poultry producer, Georgia has never had bird flu, and they are working to keep it that way.
"It's important that everybody knows that this is not a food safety issue," says Cobb. "Any positive poultry that is identified is destroyed and it does not enter the food chain."
He adds that the current strain of the influenza virus causing the outbreak in the Midwest, H5N2, is not infectious to humans. It's spread by wild waterfowl, so Cobb says anyone who has chickens, ducks, or any poultry should stay away from those wild birds.