Vermont poultry producers take precautions against bird flu

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RUTLAND, Vt. (AP) — Poultry producers in northern New England are taking precautions against a virulent form of bird flu that has wiped out millions of birds in the Midwest.

The Rutland Press Herald ( ) quotes Vermont veterinarian Kristin Haas saying the best thing producers can do is give their birds a clean area confined from wild birds, and limit traffic in and out of coops to minimize transporting a possible virus.

Iowa's governor on Friday declared a state of emergency after more than 16 million chickens and turkeys on 21 farms found to be infected with H5N2 virus had to be destroyed. Minnesota producers had to destroy nearly 4 million birds after more than 70 outbreaks of the virus there.

The virus was detected in a Kentucky flock last week. Experts say the disease is not expected to reach northern New England states until fall at the earliest.

"We are preparing now and acting as if it is already in Vermont," said Peter Stone, a turkey farmer and owner of Stonewood Farm in Orwell, Vermont, who raises about 35,000 turkeys each year.

Poultry and egg production in New Hampshire is a $13.5 million industry, according to the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics. Maine's poultry and egg industry is valued at about $39 million annually.

Haas said current H5N2 vaccines are ineffective and can exacerbate the spread of the strain. Her advice: Prepare for the potential arrival of H5N2.

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