Kentucky monitoring Tennessee avian influenza cases
(First Appeared in the March 16 issue of The Farmer’s Pride)
By Ray Bowman
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture recently confirmed two occurrences of avian influenza. The first was a highly pathogenic strain, detected in a chicken breeder flock in Lincoln County. Days later, a flock of chickens at a commercial poultry breeding operation in Giles County tested positive for low pathogenic avian influenza.
Kentucky state veterinarian Robert Stout says his office is monitoring the two cases, but has had no direct involvement with them.
“We haven’t had any direct involvement,” according to Stout. “USDA out of the Frankfort office has sent some personnel down there, but Tennessee hasn’t requested assistance and I think they have ample resources considering the scope of the investigation right now.”
“In layman’s terms, the high path virus causes death losses in a flock and they did experience that on two consecutive days in Lincoln County in the broiler breeder flock there,” Stout continued. “The other situation in Giles County is a low path event and is very different.”
Stout notes that there is also a low pathogenic event on a turkey operation in Wisconsin. However, he doesn’t expect any of these occurrences to affect chicken swaps or any other normal avian activities.
“This is a long way from what we experienced in 2015,” he assured. “The hope is that the lessons we learned from that are going to keep us from going down the path of a catastrophic situation like we had in 2015.”
Dr. Stout says the Tennessee episodes have occurred a little closer to home, but he has high praise for the way the Volunteer state has handled things. “They recognized the threat very early, they reacted within 48 hours and they limited the Lincoln County case to one house, even though they did depopulate the entire premises.”
“The company, Tennessee and USDA have done everything right and I have no reason to believe that the threat is elevated beyond what it was before this was recognized,” Stout concluded.
Even though neither of the Tennessee episodes poses a threat to human health or food safety, none of the affected animals entered the food chain. “The risk of a human becoming ill with avian influenza during poultry outbreaks is very low,” according to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s web site. “However, out of an abundance of caution, officials with the Tennessee Department of Health and Tennessee Department of Agriculture are working together to monitor the health of individuals who are working on either premises or had contact with affected birds.”
As a precaution, the affected flocks have been depopulated and buried. The premises are under quarantine. Domesticated poultry within a 6.2-mile radius of the site are also under quarantine and are being tested and monitored for illness. To date, all additional samples have tested negative for avian influenza and no other flocks within the area have shown signs of illness.
High pathogenic avian influenza was last found in a commercial turkey flock in Indiana in January 2016.