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Kind calls on Vilsack to detail USDA response to bird flu
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U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) sent a letter to United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack April 23 requesting Vilsack detail the agency’s response to the Wisconsin Avian Influenza outbreak, which has affected a farm in Juneau County.

“The public needs to know the details of the USDA’s plan to address and contain this outbreak,” said Kind. “Hundreds of thousands of birds in Wisconsin have already been affected, and we need a multi-agency collaborative approach to eradicating this disease. This situation affects our agricultural economy and could become a public health concern. I’m calling on the USDA to respond to this issue with the speed and seriousness it requires.”

Kind’s letter asks for prompt responses to the following inquiries:

• What steps has the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) taken in response to this outbreak? What further actions does the USDA plan to take to prevent further spread of the disease?

• What is the USDA’s process for developing a vaccine for the H5N2 avian influenza, and what is the expected timeline from inception to commercial distribution of a vaccine?

• Are there any trade implications with other countries with the use of a vaccine to prevent the spread of the disease?

• What steps has the USDA taken to raise awareness of this disease?

• What kind of outreach are the USDA and its state partners doing to farmers and communities to prevent further spread of this disease?

Kind statement on avian flu outbreak

Kind sent the letter to Vilsack  the day after issuing a statement regarding the appearance of avian influenza on farms in Juneau and Chippewa counties.

“Bird Flu should not be taken lightly and its containment is vital to the health of our communities and our agricultural economy,” Kind said April 22. “We need a multi-agency collaborative approach to eradicating this disease and that’s why I’m in close contact with the USDA, Wisconsin DATCP, and local authorities to monitor the response and to ensure the necessary measures are being taken. I encourage everyone to avoid contact with sick or dead poultry or wildlife and to report any sick birds to State and Federal officials.”

Cases of avian influenza were detected last week in a single mixed-breed flock in Juneau County and a single turkey flock in Chippewa County. No human cases have been reported.

The DATCP reported April 27 that cleaning and disinfection are underway at the Juneau County site. The birds affected by avian flu are dead.

Any incidence of sick birds or unusual bird deaths can be reported through the USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.