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Avian influenza hits US breeder flock

An outbreak of highly pathogenic H7 Avian Influenza (HPAI) has been confirmed in a commercial chicken breeder flock in Lincoln County, Tennessee. That was the bad news USDA APHIS brought on 6 March.

USDA notes that this is the first confirmed case of HPAI in commercial poultry in the United States.

Avian influenza response plans in place

The world organization for animal health, OIE, stated that as part of existing avian influenza response plans, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, are responding to the identification of a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H7 of North American wild bird lineage detection in a chicken broiler breeder flock. Further virus characterisation including N-type is pending.

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This is the first confirmed case of HPAI in commercial poultry in the United States this year. A comprehensive epidemiological investigation in the surrounding area has begun along with enhanced surveillance and testing.

State officials have quarantined the affected premises and implemented movement controls. Depopulation of birds on the premises has been completed. Of the 73,500 birds on the farm, about 700 died from the infection, when authorities were alarmed. The rest were culled following the diagnosis of the HPAI virus.

 Avian Influenza outbreak in the US in 2015: A gate blocks the entrance of a farm operated by Daybreak Foods which has been designated "bio security area" near Eagle Grove, Iowa. Daybreak Foods was one of several large-scale commercial poultry facilities in Iowa that were hit with a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza, which has forced poultry producers to kill off millions of birds in an attempt to stifle the spread of the illness. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty
Avian Influenza outbreak in the US in 2015: A gate blocks the entrance of a farm operated by Daybreak Foods which has been designated "bio security area" near Eagle Grove, Iowa. Daybreak Foods was one of several large-scale commercial poultry facilities in Iowa that were hit with a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza, which has forced poultry producers to kill off millions of birds in an attempt to stifle the spread of the illness. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty

Trade implications for US poultry

The USAPEEC released the following statement highlighting the implications for US poultry exports. “We hope that countries to which our industry exports will take a regionalised approach when responding to such incidents rather than imposing a nationwide ban. Korea, which, per current protocols, banned all uncooked US poultry and egg products, including hatching eggs and day-old chicks, continues to work on a regionalisation plan with the US that would limit any ban by Korea to the affected state, county, or a designated geographic zone around the affected farm. Korea will still allow imports of pasteurized egg products and cooked poultry.”

“We are hopeful that this occurrence of avian influenza will be isolated, as was the last positive detection in Indiana in early 2016. Thanks to the efforts of APHIS and state animal health officials in Tennessee, it may well be,” the organisation concluded.

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