March 12, 2015 / 8:45 AM / 5 years ago

Highly pathogenic bird flu confirmed in Arkansas turkeys: USDA

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday confirmed the discovery of highly pathogenic avian influenza in a commercial turkey flock in Arkansas, the third-largest U.S. turkey producer and home to Tyson Foods Inc, the nation’s biggest chicken company.

Shares of Tyson and other poultry companies, including Pilgrim’s Pride Corp and Sanderson Farms Inc, tumbled on concerns the discovery will further limit U.S. trade with Asia and Latin America.

Tyson’s stock price fell 5.6 percent to $37.55 after hitting a five-month low of $37.35.

The infected flock of 40,020 turkeys in Boone County, Arkansas, is located within the Mississippi flyway, a migratory route along which the same strain of H5N2 bird flu was previously identified in Minnesota and Missouri.

Arkansas officials quarantined the affected premises and birds on the property will be culled to prevent the spread of the disease, according to USDA. Birds from the flock will not enter the food system.

In response to the news, Japan’s farm ministry halted imports of live poultry and poultry meat from Arkansas from Thursday, a ministry official said. It has already imposed bans on imports from nine other states, including Minnesota, Missouri and Kansas this month, its website showed.

Other countries such as the Philippines, Taiwan, Singapore and Nicaragua have also restricted poultry exports from U.S. states that have suffered bird flu outbreaks, including California and Oregon.

A spokesman for the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture said its ban would probably be extended to Arkansas once it had received formal notification of the outbreak there.

Reporting by Tom Polansek; Additional reporting by Osamu Tsukimori in Tokyo and Erik dela Cruz in Manila; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Alan Raybould

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