Bird Flu Cases Probed in One of the Largest US Chicken States

Tabitha Dunn
March 17, 2017

Chickens in large commercial operations are already tested weekly for avian flu, Belcher said.

The order restricting movement of poultry in the state applies to bird traveling to flea markets, auctions and any types of exhibitions, according to Ray Hilburn, associate director of the Alabama Poultry & Egg Association.

The Tennessee Department of Health added that the risk of a person becoming ill with avian influenza during poultry incidents is very low.

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) confirmed a second case of highly pathogenic H7N9 avian influenza in a commercial breeder flock in Lincoln County, Tennessee. On March 8, a commercial poultry flock in Giles County tested positive for H7N9 low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI).

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At a news conference Tuesday, Agriculture and Industries Commission John McMillan said the findings of bird flu in poultry are in Jackson, Lauderdale and Madison counties. Alabama officials are working closely with the Tennessee and federal agriculture officials. Avian influenza virus strains often occur naturally in wild migratory birds without causing illness in those birds.

A national USDA lab is testing samples from poultry in Alabama to identify the strain of the virus and how lethal it is for birds, after another agency-approved lab identified the H7 subtype of the disease in samples, USDA spokeswoman Lyndsay Cole said. Hess also said the outbreak shouldn't affect price or availability of poultry.

"There's no danger in consuming poultry", he said. 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. Other importing nations restricted imports from affected areas of the state, USDA data show. The spread of chickens due to the growing popularity of backyard flocks partly explains the need for a statewide ban on bird movement until the situation is clarified, officials said.

In 2015, an avian influenza outbreak triggered the destruction of millions of chickens and turkeys in the Midwest.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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