While this strain of avian flu is not harmful to humans,  it's triggered a major ban on U.S. poultry products overseas, which could hurt farmers.

Tuesday, China joined European nations in banning U.S. poultry exports from coming into their nations until the flu outbreak is dealt with and contained.  The flu does not affect poultry meat or egg products, which are still safe to eat, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Some officials say the bans are largely to prevent the flu from potentially spreading to those countries and killing thousands of chickens, birds, ducks or other waterfowl.

Recently, two backyard flocks of ducks, chickens, turkeys and other fowl in Benton City and Richland were euthanized to prevent the spread of this highly contagious strain.  Some 700 plus animals have been put down or have died.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other agencies say it's likely they contracted the strain from migrating waterfowl.   Officials are checking a two-mile radius around where the backyard flocks were, and also a pond that one of the flocks had access to.  It's also apparently used by wild waterfowl.

U.S. poultry exports are in the billions, and if the ban is lengthy, could severely affect American producers.

Officials have already placed a quarantine on movement of existing known backyard or other flocks of chickens or waterfowl in the Tri-City area.    This is being done to ensure that any potentially infected animals do not spread the flu outside of our area.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture activated what it called a multi-agency response plan January 2nd after the flu was confirmed in the Benton City location.  The flock owner alerted WSDA after several dozen of their birds suddenly died within a week.