This file photo shows egg-producing chickens in a barn at the Heartland Quality Egg Farm in Logan County, Ohio. Avian flu has decimated chicken and turkey flocks across a dozen states. Photo by Jim Witmer / Dayton Daily News

State slaughters chickens in bird flu scare

State officials on Tuesday confiscated and slaughtered three Georgia chicken flocks over concerns some of the birds were exposed to a devastating strain of bird flu.

The Department of Agriculture officials told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that they do not believe any of the impacted eggs and birds actually have the avian influenza that has led to the killing of more than 46 million chickens in 14 states, but that they cannot take a risk.

State Veterinarian Dr. Robert Cobb told the AJC that Georgians at all locations purchased eggs or baby chicks from the same farm in Iowa. That farm had not tested positive for the avian flu when the purchases were made but has subsequently been found to be infected.

For Georgia, the mere threat of bird flu is enough to cause multiple agencies to spring to action. Georgia is the nation’s largest poultry producer, and the industry has a nearly $6 billion impact on the state’s economy.

Cobb said none of the three farms affected were commercial operations. Instead, all were smaller farms where eggs and chickens are grown mostly for personal use. Georgia was contacted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture after the farm in Iowa was proven to be infected, Cobb said.

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