U.S. reports highly lethal bird flu at commercial chicken farm in Missouri

CHICAGO, March 4 (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported an outbreak of a highly lethal type of bird flu in a commercial flock of chickens being raised for meat in Stoddard County, Missouri, on Friday.

The outbreak was confirmed as the H5N1 strain of avian flu in a flock of about 240,000 broiler chickens in the southeastern Missouri county, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said.

Over the past month, highly lethal bird flu cases have been confirmed at 10 commercial chicken and turkey farms in four states, triggering export restrictions for U.S. poultry products. [nL1N2UY30W]

In February, a flock of about 240,000 chickens owned by Tyson Foods Inc (TSN.N) was culled after testing positive in nearby Fulton County, Kentucky, approximately 65 miles (105 km) east of the latest outbreak in Missouri. read more

In response to the outbreaks, U.S. poultry producers are tightening safety measures in an attempt to curb the spread of the disease in top poultry and egg producing states. read more

Outbreaks were also confirmed recently in backyard flocks in Iowa, the top U.S.-egg producing state, and Connecticut. Wild birds are believed to be spreading the virus, after dozens tested positive along the U.S. East Coast. read more

Reporting by Caroline Stauffer and Christopher Walljasper; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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