Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.
According to the National Turkey Federation, some 46 million turkeys will be eaten this week in celebration of Thanksgiving. At an average weight of 15 pounds, the federation calculates that 690 million pound of turkey will be consumed by Americans this week alone.
That's good news for turkey producers who have spent much of their time in recent months tracking the spread of avian influenza, or bird flu.
The virus in its many forms has not reached American shores just yet, but the same thing may not be said by this time next Thanksgiving. Carried by migratory fowl, bird flu is spreading from continent to continent, with Asia seeing the most cases thus far.
This week, the focus is on China, where new outbreaks have spurred a nationwide campaign to stop the disease from causing further damage.
China's Ministry of Agriculture this week announced three new outbreaks of bird flu. At the same time, the country pledged to step up measures to fight the deadly virus-- destroying nearly 175,000 birds in the western and southern areas of the country where the most recent outbreaks occurred.
The report from China comes on the heels of a Canadian report of one duck on a poultry farm testing positive for the avian flu virus. But officials said it was not the form of the virus circulating in Southeast Asia that has been blamed for more than 60 deaths.
No matter the strain of virus, poultry imports from the province of British Columbia now have been banned in the U.S., Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong.
Hong Kong -- which also fears the disease will jump the border from China -- has been on hyper alert for signs of bird flu. The country does not want to suffer the economic devastation it did with the 2003 outbreak of SARS ... which killed nearly 300 people in the city.
Slug Senate hearing
The U.S. is also preparing, as a senate agriculture committee learned last week.
Sync: Dr. Ron DeHaven, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA: "Given the risks APHIS's safeguarding system against avian influenza is robust encompassing, among other things, trade restrictions on poultry and poultry products from overseas, anti-smuggling programs, targeted surveillance in commercial poultry operations and the live bird marketing system in the northeast United States, cooperative efforts in information-sharing with states and industry and outreach to producers regarding the need for effective on-farm bio-security measures."