Washington : Scientists are developing a vaccine that has already tested 100 percent effective in protecting chickens from bird flu but is yet to be tested on other birds including turkeys, US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

Speaking at a hearing of the House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday, Vilsack said his department would license the vaccine and distribute it throughout the country if it proved effective in turkeys too.

This year, the disease, caused by the H5N2 virus, has killed close to 50 million birds in the US, mostly in Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska.

Cases have also been detected in other states, including Arkansas, Idaho, Montana, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oregon, Wisconsin and Washington.

Iowa, which produces the largest number of eggs — one out of every five consumed — in the US has been the hardest hit.

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