Bird flu declared on turkey farm in US

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has reported a mild form of bird flu on a turkey farm in California, the latest in a series of outbreaks to hit the US poultry industry in recent months, Reuters reports.

In a report posted on the World Organisation for Animal Health’s (OIE) website, the USDA said “a commercial tom turkey flock exhibited coughing with a slight increase in mortality”.

“Samples were submitted for laboratory testing and were confirmed positive for [low pathogenic] influenza H7N3,” the USDA report said.

“The infected premises was placed under quarantine following preliminary findings and an epidemiological investigation was initiated. Follow-up surveillance and testing on 10 epidemiologically associated farms was negative” for the bird flu, the USDA report says.

Reuters reports that this low pathogenic strain differed from the highly pathogenic H5N2 avian flu which has been found recently in other states, notably Arkansas, the heart of America’s poultry producing region.

Furthermore, it was also different from the highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu found on a Californian turkey farm in January which prompted five export markets to bar imports of poultry from the state, Reuters said.

“Bird flu viruses are divided into two groups based on their ability to cause disease, or pathogenicity. Highly pathogenic bird flu spreads rapidly, may cause serious disease and has high death rates in birds. The H5N1 and H7N9 types have also been found in humans, causing several hundred deaths,” Reuters said.

The USDA report said that the event was continuing and weekly follow-up reports will be submitted to the OIE.

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