Utah Tightens Borders to Keep Deadly Bird Virus Out

Utah Tightens Borders to Keep Deadly Bird Virus Out

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News Specialist Jed Boal reportingUtah is tightening its borders to keep a deadly bird virus from getting into the state.

The poultry industry in California and smaller farms in other Western states have been hit by the deadly virus, and agriculture officials here want to make sure it doesn't make its way into the state.

This fatal poultry disease, called Exotic Newcastle Disease, or END, can wipe out a flock of chickens or turkeys in two to four days.

If one bird is infected, the whole flock has to be destroyed, but there is no threat to humans.

That's why the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food this morning asked law enforcement across the state to help enforce a federal quarantine on movement of birds into Utah.

The virus first turned up in backyard chicken flocks in Southern California in October.

Illegal fighting chickens are implicated in transmitting the disease that was transmitted into 1,500 flocks in California, including six commercial flocks.

The quarantine prohibits the importation of all eggs, chickens, game birds or caged birds originating in or moving through areas of Southern California and Southern Nevada.

"We don't have the disease. There is no threat as far as meat and poultry products in the market place to humans. It is strictly an economic and agricultural importance," says Dr. Earl Rogers, assistant state veterinarian.

The Utah Highway Patrol and the Department of Transportation will stop all undocumented birds at the state's borders, and state troopers will help catch anyone who may illegally transport show birds or pet birds.

The $80 million Utah poultry industry is at stake.

If END got into any of the state's turkey or egg farms it could wipe out millions of dollars in business.

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