Bird flu found in South Carolina turkey flock

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The USDA has confirmed the first case of HPAI in commercial poultry in the United States since 2017. (Farm and Dairy file photo)

WASHINGTON — The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H7N3 avian influenza (HPAI) in a commercial turkey flock in Chesterfield County, South Carolina.

This is the first confirmed case of HPAI in commercial poultry in the United States since 2017. It appears this HPAI strain mutated from a low pathogenic strain that has been found in poultry in that area recently. No human cases of this H7N3 avian influenza virus have been detected, and there is no immediate public health concern. As a reminder, the proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 degrees kills bacteria and viruses.

Testing

Samples from the affected flock, which experienced increased mortality, were tested at the Clemson Veterinary Diagnostic Center, part of the National Animal Laboratory Network, and confirmed at the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa. Virus isolation is ongoing.

APHIS is working closely with the South Carolina State Veterinarian’s Office, part of Clemson University, on a joint incident response. State officials quarantined the affected premises, and birds on the property were depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease. Birds from the flock will not enter the food system. As part of existing avian influenza response plans, federal and state partners are working jointly on additional surveillance and testing in the nearby area.

Good practices

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 866-536-7593.

Additional information on biosecurity for can be found at www.aphis.usda.gov/animalhealth/defendtheflock. Additional background avian influenza 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.

For information about the 2017 outbreak, click here.

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