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State, Federal Agencies Working To Contain S. Indiana Bird Flu Outbreak

Posted On January 18, 2016

By Mike Perleberg

birds-chickens

(Jasper, Ind.) – An outbreak of highly pathogenic avian flu – responsible for claiming millions of birds in 2015 – spans 10 southern Indiana farms.

The Indiana State Board of Animal Health is tracking the strain of bird flu, H7N8, at 10 commercial farms in Dubois County, located northeast of Evansville. Surveillance testing identified the positive flocks.

“This finding of highly pathogenic H7N8 is unique to Indiana and the nation,” Indiana State Veterinarian Dr. Bret D. Marsh said Friday. “This strain is unrelated to those identified in the Upper Midwest in 2015, nor is it related to the HPAI case identified in a Northeastern Indiana backyard poultry flock that was affected last May.”

Governor Mike Pence has ordered all relevant state agencies to bring full resources of the state to contain and resolve the outbreak.

Thousands of turkeys on the 10 affected farms have been euthanized in order to prevent a spread of the disease. Testing is being done daily for the presence of avian flu, with state and federal agencies working alongside one another. The state board says that 100 farms tested over 24 hours have come back negative, which means that control measures are working.

Last year, a bird flu outbreak claimed 48 million turkeys and chickens in the Midwest. As a result, prices of poultry products experienced an increase for consumers. Poultry displays were banned at 4-H and county fairs throughout the region.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the risk of illness to humans to be very low. Avian influenza does not present a food safety risk, the center says. Poultry and eggs are safe to eat.

Backyard poultry owners are encouraged to be aware of the signs of avian influenza and report illness and/or death to the USDA Healthy Birds Hotline: 866-536-7593. Callers will be routed to a state or federal veterinarian in Indiana for a case assessment. Dead birds should be double-bagged and refrigerated for possible testing.