While a group of chickens in Arkansas have tested positive for H7N7 avian influenza, the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission is optimistic there will be no additional cases.
The small outbreak came to light when a grower from Boles, Ark., who raises chickens for Tyson Foods, had some birds showing symptoms that were concerning. Tyson and the integrator ran some tests and on June 18 informed the commission of the findings, said Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission director, Preston Scroggin. The commission subsequently sent staff members to the site, where they walked through the building and took samples from birds at the farm. About 40 percent of the chickens analyzed tested positive for the low-pathogenic H7N7 avian influenza.
From there, the samples were sent to a U.S. Department of Agriculture laboratory in Iowa, where the results were confirmed.
The flock of about 9,000 birds was euthanized. Those birds were all in the same barn, and no others on the farm were infected, said Scroggin.
Scientists and veterinarians from the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission have been on the scene ever since to monitor the situation. The barn has been locked and the process of disinfecting the building has begun.
The chickens at the infected farm were believed to have caught the disease from wild fowl that had been in the area during a recent flood. When the initial discovery was reported, birds from within a 6.2 mile radius were quarantined. None of the commercial chickens from the surrounding area have tested positive.
"We have not found anything at this time positive from anywhere else. We'll be there for about a month to keep on top of the situation. We'll be there 24-7," said Scroggin. "At this time, we feel like it's just this one particular operation. You never can tell, but at this time we feel pretty good about it."
While all of the commercial flocks in the region have been tested for avian influenza, the Arkansas commission is working with USDA to find any personal or backyard flocks that might be in the area and be at risk. However, since the farm was in a remote area that is sparsely populated, Scroggin added, "we might be lucky."
Scroggin complimented the grower, Tyson Foods, and the USDA for their help as the testing has taken place.
"Tyson has been nothing but stellar to work with both before this and during this. They're constantly testing, and I think they were on top of it pretty quick," he said. "We've really been blessed working with the field staff, USDA, and the integrators. They've all been Johnny on the Spot."