Dossier H7N8: Frigid Air Slows Efforts to Euthanize Turkeys in Indiana

 

Frigid Air Slows Efforts to Euthanize Turkeys in Indiana

ABC news online, Jan 18, 2016. Frigid temperatures are hampering efforts to euthanize turkeys at several southwestern Indiana farms where a strain of bird flu was found last week, freezing the hoses used to spread a foam that suffocates the affected flocks, a spokeswoman for a state agency said Monday.

The H7N8 virus was discovered on 10 turkey farms in Dubois County, which is Indiana’s top poultry-producing county, last week.

Temperatures that dipped into the teens and single digits over the weekend stymied efforts to fill the affected poultry barns with the foam to a level just above the turkeys’ heads to suffocate them, said Denise Derrer of the Indiana State Board of Animal Health.
“The water’s been freezing up. It’s slowing things down, but we’re doing the best we can,” she said.

Derrer said state workers, staff from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and others have been using carbon dioxide gas instead of the foam. Other turkeys are being killed manually with a device that delivers a fatal head injury, but that method is slow and inefficient, she said.

While the USDA has a goal of euthanizing infected poultry within 24 hours of the discovery of infected flocks, it’s not a requirement, Derrer said, adding that workers are trying to euthanize flocks as quickly as possible.

As of Monday, nearly 120,000 turkeys had been killed on four of the farms, while efforts to euthanize about 121,000 turkeys continued on six other farms.

The H7N8 strain is different than the H5N2 virus that led to the deaths of 48 million birds last summer, mostly in the upper Midwest.

The first farm where H7N8 was found had a highly contagious form of the virus, Derrer said, but tests by USDA staff have shown eight of the other nine turkey farms have a “low pathogenic” form, meaning the birds are more likely to get sick but not die.

The results also suggest that the outbreaks were caught earlier in the disease cycle before the virus had a chance to mutate and become more virulent.

Test results on viral samples taken from the ninth farm are still pending. All of the affected farms were within six miles of the first one; officials are still monitoring other farms and backyard flocks within that distance, Derrer said.

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Dossier H7N8: All flocks in Indiana ‘euthanized’?

All flocks in Indiana ‘euthanized’?

WattAgNet.com, January 21, 2016. Depopulation has been completed at 10 turkey farms with confirmed avian influenza detections and another nearby layer farm deemed at risk. Depopulation procedures have been completed at 11 farms in Dubois County, Indiana, after the presence of H7N8 avian influenza had been detected at 10 of those farms.

According to the Indiana State Board of Animal Health, 413,163 birds have been depopulated since avian influenza was first confirmed in Dubois County on January 15, 2016. Of the birds euthanized, 257,163 were turkeys and 156,000 were layer chickens.

Ten of those farms were commercial turkey operations, while the layer operation was not infected with avian influenza. However, the Dubois County layer flock was depopulated as a precaution because of its “dangerous” proximity to the affected flocks.

 

H7N8

The first and largest turkey flock to be affected was confirmed to have been infected with highly pathogenic H7N8 avian influenza, while nine others were confirmed to have been hit by a low pathogenic strain of H7N8. The other turkey flock tested positive for the presence of H7N8 avian influenza, but it has not yet been determined whether it was a highly pathogenic or low pathogenic strain.

The flock hit by highly pathogenic avian influenza included 62,213 turkeys.
The bird carcasses from those farms are being composted in the buildings in which they were euthanized.

The Indiana agency reported that during a 24-hour period that started on January 19, 114 commercial farms tested negative for avian influenza. Of those, 62 farms were in the initial 10-kilometer control zone, while the others were in an expanded zone that covered an additional 10 kilometers. The expanded zone includes not only Dubois County, but also Crawford, Daviess, Martin and Orange counties.

State and federal teams have visited nearly 1,600 residences near the site where the first confirmed avian influenza case occurred to search for backyard flocks for precautionary testing. The teams found 67 backyard flocks within that area, and those birds are being tested.

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Dossier H7N8: USDA APHIS confirmed outbreak on commercial turkey farm in Dubois county, Indiana

Avian Infuenza in Indiana

Bloomberg Business online, January 15, 2016. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it confirmed the diagnosis on January 11, 2016, the presence of a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza in a commercial turkey flock in Indiana, the country’s first case since the end of last year’s outbreak that led to the destruction of 50 million animals.

The H7N8 strain discovered at a 60,000-bird flock in Dubois County is different from those that caused last year’s outbreak, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service said Friday in a statement on its website. Federal and state authorities are monitoring and testing the nearby area, it said, without naming the exact site.

The USDA contacted countries that buy poultry and eggs after the detection and hasn’t received any notice of official import restrictions, T.J. Myers, associate deputy administrator at the inspection service’s APHIS, said on a conference call with the media. The USDA is working to “minimize the trade impact,” Myers said.

U.S. poultry producers have been on edge after recent cases in France. The 2015 U.S. outbreak, which ended in June, led to record-high egg prices and caused some shortages of turkey deli meat used in subs and sandwiches. It cost the industry $3.3 billion.
Rapid Response

Producers have been discussing the new outbreak in a series of conference calls since they first became aware of the Indiana case late Thursday, said John Brunnquell, president of Egg Innovations LLC, which produces free-range eggs in farms across the Midwest. The response has been rapid, with the killing of birds going on throughout the night, he said in an interview.

“The timing of the disease was a surprise because most in the industry did not think it would reappear for another two or three months,” said Terry Reilly, a senior commodity analyst for Futures International LLC in Chicago.

Preliminary tests indicate the H7N8 strain found in Indiana was of North American origin, according to the USDA’s Myers. The USDA will conduct diagnostics to seek a cause for the mutation of the virus, he said.
Different Strain

Determined to avoid a repeat of the nation’s worst-ever avian-influenza outbreak, the USDA stockpiled millions of doses of a new vaccine designed to fight the 2015 strain, which is different than the one in Indiana, Myers said.

“Concerns are huge, but we cannot pull the panic button until we know quite a bit more,” said Bill Lapp, the president of Advanced Economic Solutions in Omaha, Nebraska. “Because it is found in a different state, and is a different strain, it makes an even greater mystery.”

Sixty-five egg and turkey farms are within 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) of the affected barn, said Brunnquell of Egg Innovations. The area is home to an estimated 4.5 million egg-layers and about 1 million to 2 million turkeys.

Producers within 10 kilometers of the affected barn can’t move products or animals without testing to determine if they are free of the virus, Denise Derrer, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Board of Animal Health, said in a telephone interview.
Testing Birds

The affected producer began terminating birds in nine other barns on the farm after tests showed the virus was highly pathogenic. A bird flu test conducted by a Purdue, Indiana, laboratory came back positive yesterday, Derrer said.

No other signs of the virus have yet been detected, she said. Government teams will travel to the area to contact people raising backyard flocks on Saturday to test more birds.

Indiana’s poultry industry ranks fourth nationally in turkey production, first in duck production and third in eggs. It also is a significant producer of broiler chickens.

Shares of poultry producer Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. closed 5.2 percent lower in New York, the most in three months. Tyson Foods Inc., which produces chicken and other meats, fell as much as 5.5 percent before closing down 2.7 percent.

The case of avian flu in Indiana doesn’t involve Tyson, Hormel Foods Corp., Cargill Inc., Maxwell Farms LLC’s Butterball or Sanderson Farms Inc., according to company e-mailed responses.

The news of the case of bird flu was a boost for Cal-Maine Foods Inc., the largest U.S. egg supplier. Its stock jumped as much as 11 percent before closing up 5.2 percent.

Avian influenza doesn’t present a food safety risk. All shipments of poultry and eggs are tested to ensure the absence of avian influenza before moving into the food supply. The Centers for Disease Control considers the risk of illness to humans to be very low.

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