USDA uncovers new findings on Tennessee avian flu breakout

Testing Chicks For Bird Flu

Merrimon Thinkstock

Tens of thousands of chickens have been destroyed at a Tennessee chicken farm due to a bird flu outbreak and 30 other farms within a six-mile radius have been quarantined.

Antibodies for bird flu were detected by Aviagen, but a spokeswoman for the company told Reuters that the flock reported "no evidence of clinical disease".

"The health of poultry is critically important at this time", says Dr. He said to avoid poultry exhibitions, shows, sales at fairs, festivals, flea market or auctions. This H7N9 strain is of North American wild bird lineage and is the same strain of avian influenza that was previously confirmed in Tennessee.

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries' Poultry Division is available to answer any questions concerning movement of poultry.

Officials say the strains of bird flu that have sickened the Tennessee chickens do not pose a threat to the food supply.

A second case of avian influenza was confirmed March 9 in Tennessee on a breeder chicken facility located in Giles County, Tenn., but this case is a low-pathogenic version, according to Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

Alabama has been on alert since a 2015 outbreak in the Midwest. That said, deadly human flu pandemics have been sparked by viruses that first emerged in birds, and health officials closely track what's killing poultry.

"We do have a problem with avian influenza in Alabama", Alabama Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan said during a news conference on Tuesday. The U.S. has the strongest AI surveillance program in the world and USDA is working with its partners to actively look for the disease in commercial poultry operations, backyard birds, live bird markets and in migratory waterfowl populations. Agriculture and Industries officials are also reminding all people with domestic flocks, from backyard operations to commercial producers, to use proper biosecurity practices to protect their birds. The test was conducted at the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa.

The USDA said Monday that it does not yet know what type of H7 bird flu is affecting the chickens in Tennessee, but will know within 48 hours.

ยท Report a sudden increase in the number of sick birds or bird deaths to the state veterinarian's office at 615- 837-5120 and/or USDA at 1-866-536-7593.

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