Avian Flu Hits Chicken Breeding Facility in Tennessee

Agriculture officials confirmed the presence of the H7 strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) at a commercial chicken breeding facility in Lincoln County, Tennessee.

The facility alerted the state veterinarian’s office on Friday (March 3) after an increase in chicken deaths. The affected facility and about 30 other poultry farms within about a six-mile radius of the site are under quarantine.

“Animal health is our top priority,” said Dr. Charles Hatcher, the state veterinarian. “With this HPAI detection, we are moving quickly and aggressively to prevent the virus from spreading.”

According to the US Department of Agriculture, there are 73,500 chickens in the facility’s flock.

HPAI poses no risk to the food supply and no affected chickens entered the food chain. The disease can cause up to 100% mortality in flocks, often within 48 hours.

There are more than 1,650 commercial broiler and breeder houses on more than 550 family farms in Tennessee. The state ranks 13th nationally in broiler production and processing with more than six million birds per week at five plants.

The most recent US detection of HPAI was in January 2016 in a commercial turkey flock in Indiana where more than 414,000 turkeys and chickens were euthanized.

In 2015, US poultry producers lost more than 48 million birds to bird flu. The hardest-hit states were Minnesota, the country’s top turkey producer, and Iowa, the top chicken-egg producer.

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