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15,000 hens killed after flu exposure found

Jon Fitch, director of the state's Livestock and Poultry Commission, said routine blood tests conducted Friday found the possible exposure. Further tests done by the state and the U.S. Department of Agriculture found the birds did not have active infections, but rather were exposed to a subtype of the disease.

Fitch said the company immediately began disposing of the birds.

“There is absolutely no human health threat,” Fitch said.

Fitch said state officials decided against announcing the infection to the general public because the birds tested positive for exposure to the H7N3 strain of the virus. The strain that ravaged Asian poultry stocks in late 2003 was H5N1. That strain has killed 240 people worldwide and scientists worry it could mutate into a form that spreads among people.

Associated Press

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