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Highly pathogenic avian influenza H7 strain found in Tenn. flock


By: Georgia Farm Bureau
3/8/2017 11:17:31 AM


The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H7N9 avian influenza (HPAI) in a commercial chicken breeder flock in Lincoln County, Tennessee. It is the first confirmed case of HPAI in commercial poultry in the United States this year. There have been no reports of HPAI in Georgia, according to the Georgia Department of Agriculture, which is continuing to stress the importance of commercial and backyard poultry growers following biosecurity measures.

"In light of the first confirmed case of HPAI in commercial poultry this year, we challenge all of our poultry producers to redouble their biosecurity efforts," said Georgia State Veterinarian Dr. Robert Cobb. "We urge our backyard growers to practice extreme caution during this period of heightened alert and consider moving poultry with outside access into biosecure housing immediately."

According to published reports, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, South Korea and Taiwan have banned imports of
poultry from Tennessee as of March 7.

While HPAI is known to be deadly for domesticated poultry - chickens, turkeys, guineas, quail, and peafowl -- it does not pose a risk to the food supply. None of the infected birds entered the food supply. The risk of human infection with avian influenza during poultry outbreaks is very low, and proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit kills bacteria and viruses.

"We are certainly concerned for our neighbors in Tennessee and will keep them in our thoughts and prayers as they deal with this economic hit," said Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black. "Poultry is Georgia's number one industry and we must take this threat seriously. Wild waterfowl can harbor the Avian Influenza virus without getting sick. We cannot keep the waterfowl from coming to Georgia, but we can keep them and this virus from getting into our domestic poultry by practicing strong biosecurity."

The infected flock in Tennessee, which included 73,500 birds, is located within the Mississippi Flyway, one of four migratory paths taken by wild birds. The birds typically follow the same flyway in both directions during their migrations. Georgia is located within the Atlantic Flyway.

The Lincoln County, Tennessee, flock has been euthanized, and approximately 50 other poultry houses within a 6.2-mile radius of the site have been tested and quarantined. According to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, surveillance is being done out to a 10-mile radius of the site and as of March 7 no other flocks have tested positive or experienced clinical signs of HPAI. The affected flock is in south central Tennessee approximately 30 miles north of Huntsville, Alabama.

According to the USDA, the H7N9 strain detected in this flock is not the same strain that infected commercial poultry flocks primarily in the upper Midwest in 2015, nor is it the same as the H7N9 virus in China that has impacted poultry and humans in Asia. The USDA says the virus detected in Tennessee is genetically distinct from the China H7N9 virus.

Owners of commercial and backyard poultry flocks are encouraged to closely observe their birds and report a sudden increase in the number of sick birds or bird deaths to the state veterinarian's office at 855-491-1432. For more updates and information regarding biosecurity tips visit or


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