Bird Flu

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A poultry expert says Alabama's poultry industry -- the nation's third largest -- remains insulated from the causes of bird flu.

Doctor Eugene Simpson, a poultry expert at the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, said the state's growers don't take chances when it comes to disease surveillance and prevention.

Simpson, a professor at Auburn University, commented about yesterday's announcement by the National Chicken Council that chicken companies intend to test every chicken flock in the United States for bird flu before slaughter.

A council spokesman said companies that make up more than 90 percent of the nation's production have signed up for testing and that more are expected to follow. The company names were not released.

State Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks said three years ago officials began testing thousands of specimens.

Alabama's poultry industry, ranks behind Georgia and Arkansas in production.

The virulent form of bird flu in Asia has not been found in the U-S and is only now spreading into eastern Europe.

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