Chicken deaths still a mystery

LIHUE —The Department of Agriculture could not determine the exact cause of death for more than 10 chickens that died last week in front of the Historic County Building, but have ruled out avian flu.

“We didn’t find the answer on gross examination,” said Travis Heskett, veterinary medical officer at the USDA Animal Disease Control Branch. “Our primary rule out is botulism.”

Botulism is a type of food poisoning caused by eating spoiled canned meat, he said, and the department will be try and determine if that was the cause.

Heskett said three dead birds flown in from Oahu tested negative for avian flu, but further testing will be done to determine the exact cause of death. It could take more than three to four weeks, he said.

More than a week ago, Lihue resident Joseph Manini Jr. noticed chickens dying around the Historic County Building. He made several calls to various agencies until the Division of Forestry and Wildlife came by, placed the dead birds into a truck and shipped them to the USDA on Oahu.

He said he’s still upset about the whole thing.

“These birds were like family to us,” he said.

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