On March 5th the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed the detection of Highly Pathogenic H7 Avian Influenza in a commercial chicken breeder flock in Lincoln County, Tennessee, within the Mississippi flyway. Please see the full announcement from the USDA, included at the end of this post.
We are able to provide you with additional information on this event via staff participation in a USDA industry update, and cooperation from Dr. Hayley Murphy of Zoo Atlanta, who is participating in regional calls as a subject matter expert on the zoological community for the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Updates on this event are as follows:
- A large Surveillance Zone has been established with a 10-mile radius; this was extended from the standard 10 kilometer radius at the producer’s request. So far, all samples from other barns on the index premises are negative for HPAI, as are samples from other sites in the surveillance area.
- Initial sequencing indicates that this H7 is North American, wild bird origin. At this time, the risk to human safety appears to be low.
- Low path H7 strains have been detected in routine wild bird surveillance this year with no associated outbreaks in poultry. This is the first HPAI H7 detected in poultry this year.
- USDA continues to collect samples and will adjust surveillance strategies as more is known about this virus, or if any other premises become infected.
- Dr. Hayley Murphy of Zoo Atlanta is participating in regional phone calls as warranted, and will provide any pertinent information for dissemination to this group.
- Update: USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) have identified the virus as North American wild bird lineage H7N9. This is NOT the same as the China H7N9 virus that has impacted poultry and infected humans in Asia. See the press release for additional information.
There has also been a detection of Low Pathogenic AI, H5N2 in a turkey flock in Wisconsin. This is also a North American origin virus and there has not been any morbidity or mortality in connection with the virus in these birds thus far, therefore not meeting any criteria for a case definition of HPAI. USDA and Wisconsin continue to monitor this situation, and ZAHP will provide addition al updates on this detection as warranted.
Depending on location, exhibitors may be contacted about participating in surveillance. Expect that recommendations will include strong messages about prevention of contact between backyard poultry and wild birds ( this includes domestic poultry in outdoor exhibits). Facilities looking to evaluate their preparedness for an Avian Influenza outbreak may want to review the HPAI Checklist developed by the ZAHP Fusion Center. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns, or would like to receive updates directly to your inbox.
USDA Confirms Highly Pathogenic H7 Avian Influenza in a Commercial Flock in Lincoln County, Tennessee
March 5, 2017, Washington – The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H7 avian influenza (HPAI) of North American wild bird lineage in a commercial chicken breeder flock in Lincoln County, Tennessee. This is the first confirmed case of HPAI in commercial poultry in the United States this year. The flock of 73,500 is located within the Mississippi flyway. Samples from the affected flock, which experienced increased mortality, were tested at Tennessee’s Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory and confirmed at the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa. Virus isolation is ongoing, and NVSL expects to characterize the neuraminidase protein, or “N-type”, of the virus within 48 hours.
APHIS is working closely with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture on a joint incident response. State officials quarantined the affected premises and birds on the property will be depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease. Birds from the flock will not enter the food system.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is working directly with poultry workers at the affected facility to ensure that they are taking the proper precautions to prevent illness and contain disease spread. As a reminder, the proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 ˚F kills bacteria and viruses.
As part of existing avian influenza response plans, Federal and State partners are working jointly on additional surveillance and testing in the nearby area. The United States 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, live bird markets and in migratory wild bird populations.
USDA will be informing the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) as well as international trading partners of this finding. USDA also continues to communicate with trading partners to encourage adherence to OIE standards and minimize trade impacts. OIE trade guidelines call on countries to base trade restrictions on sound science and, whenever possible, limit restrictions to those animals and animal products within a defined region that pose a risk of spreading disease of concern.
These virus strains can travel in wild birds without them appearing sick. People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.
All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, should continue to practice good biosecurity, 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. Additional information on biosecurity for can be found at www.aphis.usda.gov/animalhealth/defendtheflock
Avian influenza (AI) is caused by an influenza type A virus which can infect poultry (such as chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, domestic ducks, geese and guinea fowl) and is carried by free flying waterfowl such as ducks, geese and shorebirds. AI viruses are classified by a combination of two groups of proteins: hemagglutinin or “H” proteins, of which there are 16 (H1–H16), and neuraminidase or “N” proteins, of which there are 9 (N1–N9). Many different combinations of “H” and “N” proteins are possible. Each combination is considered a different subtype, and can be further broken down into different strains. AI viruses are further classified by their pathogenicity (low or high)— the ability of a particular virus strain to produce disease in domestic chickens.
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