USDA officials announced that if avian influenza is found in U.S. chickens or turkeys, the government will kill any flocks suspected of having the virus -- before testing is complete, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
"Quick detection will be key to quickly containing it and eradicating it," Ron DeHaven, head of USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, told the AP.
Most of the chicken's raised in the U.S. are housed in commercial facilities that are protected against the spread of disease. But, there are several backyard and free-range flocks that are harder to protect. Officials are encouraging owners to bring flocks inside and watch for signs of flu and report them to state or federal authorities.
USDA is testing as many as 100,000 wild birds this year, and the industry is testing every commercial flock for the flu virus. -- Stephanie Veldman