LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – After a Madison County farm discovered an avian flu outbreak last week, poultry producers are taking measures to prevent the disease from spreading to other flocks. Leaders hope to prevent any supply chain strains related to the commonly known bird flu.
“We’re just making sure we’re following very strict biosecurity measures and doing everything we can to keep from introducing that disease into other poultry flocks across the state,” said Wes Ward, Arkansas’ Secretary of Agriculture.
Bird flu can spread easily through chicken populations. Arkansas has the lone noted outbreak, but states across the country have reported their own cases.
“It’s a disease that’s highly pathogenic,” Ward said. “It spreads very easily.”
The Little Rock Zoo announced this week its birds will be moved indoors for the week. Ward said the Madison County farm acted quickly to stop the flu from getting out.
“The quickest and best and most humane way to control the disease is to depopulate that flock that has it,” Ward said.
University of Arkansas economist Jeff Cooperstein said poultry is a major part of the state’s economy.
“If you count just chickens by themselves, [it’s] about $3.7 billion,” Cooperstein said. “If you add in egg production, you’re talking another $700 million.”
Cooperstein said outbreaks could have an impact on poultry’s supply chain.
“You could see higher prices at the checkout line,” Cooperstein said.
Ward said Arkansas can avoid an outbreak if measures are followed, which would be good for farmers and shoppers.
“This one incident in Arkansas isn’t going to have a large market-disrupting sort of impact,” Ward said. “It is part of a larger scenario.”