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U.S. Agriculture Secretary talks poultry bird flu in STL

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Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, at a meeting Thursday in St. Louis. Senator Jim Talent is seated next to Johanns. (UPI photo/Bill Greenblatt)

By Robert Frederick, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns was at Saint Louis University on Thursday, along with Senator Jim Talent and Missouri agriculture leaders.

They were discussing the federal response to avian flu in poultry.

Poultry is a billion dollar industry for Missouri, not including the feed and related industries.

Because all flu begins first in birds, Secretary Johanns said federal efforts are focused on surveillance and monitoring and telling poultry farmers to continue the practice of keeping their flocks separate from migratory birds.

"Avian influenza has not been very efficient in terms of poultry-to-humans, definitely not human-to-human," Johanns said. "Our concern is, that it could change. It could mutate and all of a sudden that's a different phenomena. But at least to date, it's not been very transmissible."

Johanns emphasized that for the consumer, poultry in the U.S. is safe, and that proper preparation of poultry will keep people safe.

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