Bird flu confirmed in North Alabama

Saturday, 18 Mar, 2017

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture also confirmed a second case of highly pathogenic H7N9 avian influenza in a commercial breeder flock in Lincoln County, Tennessee.

A second case of highly pathogenic avian influenza has been confirmed in Lincoln County.

Alabama, one of the leading U.S producers of chicken meat, is investigating suspected cases of bird flu in three northern poultry flocks and has introduced some restrictions on the transportation of birds. "We feel that the stop movement order is the most effective way to implement biosecurity for all poultry in our state". US authorities have said that strain is genetically distinct from the H7N9 in Tennessee and that the risk of the disease spreading to people from poultry or making food unsafe is low. Rival poultry producer Sanderson Farms Inc. declined 2.4 percent and Pilgrim's Pride Corp. slid 1.5 percent.

Lab results collected from a guinea fowl at the TaCo-Bet Trade Day flea market tested positive for low pathogenic H7N9 avian influenza. Tony Frazier, state veterinarian.

Stiles says this strain of North American avian influenza is very contagious from bird to bird, "But it is not contagious and in particular, the strain we found in Tennessee, is not contagious to humans or pets".

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Large-scale commercial poultry is Alabama's largest crop and a $15 billion annual business. Ray Hilburn, associate director of the Alabama Poultry and Egg Association, told the news service that infected birds have been culled, but he didn't say how many.

This month's bird flu outbreak was the first in the more than a year. "Industry, growers, state and federal agencies and other stakeholders have worked hard to maintain a level of readiness", said Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan.

USDA is working with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture on the joint incident response.

Officials said they will continue monitoring commercial and backyard poultry for signs of influenza. During this time, backyard flock owners should refrain from moving birds offsite or introducing new birds.

Aviagen detected the presence of antibodies for the flu virus in a flock in Alabama that showed "no evidence of clinical disease", company spokeswoman Marla Robinson said in an email.