The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza in a Foster Farms turkey flock in Stanislaus County, California.  This is the first finding of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in commercial poultry during the ongoing spread of the virus through the Pacific Flyway.

In a statement, Foster Farms said it was able to detect the virus early as part of its stringent testing and biosecurity program.

”Since late 2014, ongoing avian influenza incidents have been detected in wild waterfowl and backyard poultry operations along the Pacific Flyway. As a result, Foster Farms increased biosecurity measures at all West Coast facilities and is actively partnering with state and national agricultural and veterinary leaders to prevent potential avian exposure. To further protect the health of its poultry and ensure the safety of its products, Foster Farms has long employed strict and industry leading biosecurity practices including isolation of poultry farms, traffic control and sanitation. The company has maintained a continuous testing program for avian influenza since 2000. Foster Farms is committed to providing premium quality poultry products that are healthy, delicious and safe.”

Samples from the flock, which experienced increased mortality, were tested at the California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory System (CAHFS) and the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, confirmed the finding. APHIS is partnering closely with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), which has quarantined the facility.

APHIS and CDFA have initiated an incident command response, and APHIS will assist CDFA in depopulating the remaining birds on the property to prevent the spread of the disease.

Birds from the involved flock will not enter the food system.

Additional surveillance planned in area

Federal and state partners are working jointly on additional surveillance and testing in the nearby area, following existing avian influenza response plans. These plans also will include preventing the movement of at-risk animals or products out of the immediate area to prevent further disease spread.

According to APHIS, the United States has the strongest avian influenza surveillance program in the world, and USDA is working with its partners to actively look for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets, and in migratory wild bird populations.

OIE being notified

USDA will be notifying the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) of this detection as part of USDA’s ongoing reporting of all HPAI findings. USDA also continues to communicate with trading partners to encourage adherence to OIE standards and minimize trade impacts. OIE trade guidelines call on countries to base trade restrictions on sound science and, whenever possible, limit restrictions to those animals and animal products within a defined region that pose a risk of spreading disease of concern.