H5N2 flu strain found in Kansas chicken, duck flock

By The Associated Press

The Department of Agriculture has identified the first infection of a virulent strain of avian flu in poultry in Kansas, confirming the virus has spread into a migratory bird route that runs through the center of the country.

The discovery of the H5N2 flu strain in a backyard chicken and duck flock in a county just outside Kansas City is certain to lead to expanded restrictions on poultry exports from top trading partners such as Mexico and Canada.

The infection, confirmed Friday, was the first case in an established migratory bird route, known as the central flyway, that stretches roughly north-south from Montana to Texas.

Kansas officials quarantined the infected property in Leavenworth County, and birds there will be culled to prevent the spread of the disease. A quarantine zone will be established for miles around the site to limit the movement of poultry.

The Kansans aren't alone in the fight. Animal health experts and poultry growers are scrambling to determine how the dangerous strain of bird flu infected poultry flocks in four states — and to stop it from spreading.

Avian influenza is common in wild migratory waterfowl but doesn't usually harm them. But the H5N2 strain is deadly when it spreads to commercial poultry. It can wipe out a flock of tens of thousands of birds in days, as it did at a farm last month in Minnesota, the nation's top turkey-producing state. The same strain soon turned up on two farms in Missouri and one in Arkansas.

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