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Avian flu back in spotlight with new cases in Indiana

WASHINGTON, DC, Jan. 17, 2016 — USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of H7N8 avian influenza in nine flocks in southwestern Indiana — the first in the US since June 2015.

Eight of the nine H7N8 avian influenza detections have been confirmed as low-pathogenic avian influenza, with additional testing ongoing for the ninth flock.

“It appears that there was a low-pathogenic virus circulating in the poultry population in this area, and that virus likely mutated into a highly pathogenic virus in one flock,” said Dr. John Clifford, USDA Chief Veterinarian.

“Through cooperative industry, state and federal efforts, we were able to quickly identify and isolate the highly pathogenic case, and depopulate that flock. Together, we are also working to stop further spread of the LPAI virus, and will continue aggressive testing on additional premises within the expanded control area to ensure any additional cases of either HPAI or LPAI are identified and controlled quickly.”

These new cases were identified as part of surveillance testing in the control area surrounding the initial highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) case.

State officials quarantined the affected premises and depopulation of birds on the affected premises has already begun. Birds from the flock will not enter the food system.

The rapid testing and response in this incident is the result of months of planning with local, state, federal and industry partners to ensure the most efficient and effective coordination, USDA said in a news release.

In September, APHIS published a HPAI Preparedness and Response Plan that captures the results of this planning effort, organizing information on preparatory activities, policy decisions and updated strategy documents.

“Anyone involved with poultry production, from the small backyard to the large commercial producer, should review their biosecurity activities to assure the health of their birds,” the agency said.

To facilitate such a review, a biosecurity self-assessment and educational materials can be found on the US Poultry website.

In addition to practicing good biosecurity, all bird owners should prevent contact between their birds and wild birds and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through their state veterinarian or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.

For more on surveillance and preventing the spread of avian influenza, click here.





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