On March 14, the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) issued a stop movement order for certain poultry in the U.S. state, after three potential cases of avian influenza were identified. The order halts movement of birds to poultry shows, swap meets, flea markets and poultry auctions.
The possible infections occurred in three north Alabama counties that border Tennessee, where two cases of avian influenza were confirmed last week. Samples from the Alabama flocks have been sent for laboratory analysis to determine if avian influenza has struck the state.
Details of the potential Alabama avian influenza cases
“The health of poultry is critically important at this time,” said Alabama State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier, in a press release. “With three investigations of avian influenza in north Alabama on three separate premises we feel that the stop movement order is the most effective way to implement biosecurity for all poultry in our state.”
The first two investigations were on two separate premises in north Alabama. One flock of chickens at a commercial breeder operation located in Lauderdale County, Alabama, USA was found to be suspect for avian influenza. No significant mortality in the flock was reported.
The second location was a backyard flock in Madison County, Alabama, USA. Samples from both premises have been sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa, USA and are being tested to determine presence of the virus.
The most recent investigation began following routine surveillance while executing Alabama’s 2016 HPAI [highly pathogenic avian influenza] Preparedness and Response Plan. USDA poultry technicians collected samples at the TaCo-Bet Trade Day flea market in Scottsboro located in Jackson County, Alabama, USA on Sunday, March 12. Samples collected were suspect and those samples are on the way to the USDA Lab in Ames, Iowa, USA.
USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working closely with ADAI on a joint incident response. USDA is working with its partners to actively look for the disease in commercial poultry operations, backyard birds, live bird markets and in migratory waterfowl populations.
Tennessee has second avian flu case in commercial flock
A flock of chickens at a commercial broiler breeder operation in Giles County, Tennessee, has tested positive for low pathogenic H7N9 avian influenza. The state’s second avian influenza case in 2017 was confirmed on March 9 by Tennessee State Veterinarian Dr. Charles Hatcher. The state’s first case, a highly pathogenic strain of H7N9 avian influenza, was announced on March 5 and involved a broiler breeder flock in Lincoln County.
Track 2017 avian flu outbreaks in North American poultry
To help poultry growers and producers monitor these outbreaks of avian influenza, WATTAgNet has again created an interactive map tracking cases confirmed by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in North America in 2017: https://batchgeo.com/map/2017-avian-influenza-outbreaks.
No risk to food supply; Biosecurity measures
This suspected strain of avian influenza found in Alabama does not pose a risk to the food supply, according to ADAI. No affected poultry entered the food chain. The risk of human infection with avian influenza during poultry outbreaks is very low.
Frazier encourages commercial poultry producers and backyard flock owners to observe their birds closely and continue to practice strict biosecurity measures. These include:
- Isolating poultry from other animals
- Wearing clothing designated for use only at the poultry house
- Minimizing access to people and unsanitized equipment
- Keeping the area around the poultry buildings clean and uninviting to wild birds and animals
- Sanitizing the facility between flocks
- Cleaning equipment entering and leaving the farm
- Having an all in, all out policy regarding the placement and removal of the poultry
- Properly disposing of bedding material and mortalities
- Avoiding contact with migratory waterfowl
Frazier reminds all poultry owners and producers to strictly adhere to the biosecurity guidelines mentioned above. During this time, backyard flock owners should refrain from moving birds offsite or introducing new birds. The ADAI Poultry Division is available to answer any questions concerning movement of poultry and should be notified at 334-240-6584 and/or USDA at 1-866-536-7593 if birds show unusual signs of disease (flu-like symptoms) or flocks experiences unexplained mortalities.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System has created a website to assist backyard flock owners with maintaining healthy birds and to provide answers for avian influenza control. It can be found at www.AlabamaAvianInfluenza.com.