Avian flu confirmed in Tennessee Tyson breeder flock

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials and Tyson Foods confirmed avian influenza in a breeder flock in Lincoln County, Tennessee.

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Yurii Bukhanovskyi, Bigstock
Yurii Bukhanovskyi, Bigstock

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials and Tyson Foods Inc. confirmed avian influenza in a breeder flock in Lincoln County, Tennessee.

On March 5, state and national veterinary authorities announced the appearance of H7 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) of wild bird lineage on the Tyson contract farm. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health and Information Service (USDA APHIS) said the flock of 73,500 were culled to prevent spreading the disease.

A March 6 notification published by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said the incident began on March 1, was reported March 3 and confirmed on March 4. The report said 700 of the broiler breeder flock died of the disease. Depopulation is complete and and a comprehensive epidemiological investigation in the area, along with enhanced surveillance and testing, are underway. State health officials quarantined the site and implemented movement controls.

APHIS said the flock is located in the Mississippi flyway, a migratory bird pattern that crosses Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Tennessee, South Dakota and Wisconsin, as well as parts of neighboring states. Avian influenza, absent in U.S. commercial poultry since 2016, was confirmed in a wild bird in Montana in January.

In a press release, Tyson, the U.S.’s largest broiler producer, said it’s responding aggressively to prevent the spread of the disease.

“All flocks located within a six-mile radius of the farm will be tested and will not be transported unless they test negative for the virus,” the company said in a statement. “Based on the limited scope known to us at this time, we don’t expect disruptions to our chicken business and plan to meet our customers’ needs.”

The company said its U.S. poultry operations will continue under heightened biosecurity and Tyson workers and contract farmers will get additional biosecurity training to prevent the spread of HPAI.

Avian influenza is currently active around the world, with multiple outbreaks throughout Europe and the worst-ever outbreak in South Korea. On March 6, Wisconsin's Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection said a low pathogenic strain of the disease – H5N2 – was detected in a 84,000-bird commercial turkey flock in Barron County, Wisconsin.

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