USDA Working On Bird Flu Vaccine For Poultry

Published: Thursday, July 23, 2015 - 8:41am
Updated: Thursday, July 23, 2015 - 8:42am

Scientists have developed a vaccine strain that is 100 percent effective in protecting chickens from bird flu and testing is underway to see if it protects turkeys.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the House Agriculture Committee at a hearing on Wednesday that the agency plans to quickly license it for widespread production if it is effective for turkeys. The USDA is seeking federal funding to stockpile vaccine nationally.

The Arizona Department of Agriculture quarantined properties in four counties last month while they were testing potentially infected poultry. None of the birds ended up testing positive for the disease. 

The vaccine targets the H5N2 virus that killed 48 million birds in 15 states this spring. Development is part of the USDA's preparation for a possible outbreak recurrence.

Scientists believe the virus was spread by droppings of wild birds migrating north this spring. They're concerned it could return this fall when birds fly south for the winter or again next spring.

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