Poultry breeder Aviagen culls U.S. flock over bird flu fears

In addition to the Aviagen case, samples were also taken from a backyard flock in Madison County and the TaCo-Bet Trade Day flea market in Scottsboro in Jackson County. The farm was a supplier to Tyson Foods Inc., and the flock was destroyed to prevent the spread of the virus.

It's the third case of bird flu identified in Tennessee this month. Officials haven't said what avian flu strains are involved and said samples were on their way for testing at the NVSL in Iowa.

Alabama officials say they are keeping a close watch on the avian flu outbreaks that have been reported in Alabama and Tennessee.

"We do have a problem with avian influenza in Alabama", Alabama Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan said during a news conference on Tuesday. On March 8, a commercial poultry flock in Giles County tested positive for H7N9 low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI). This virus is not the same as the China H7N9 virus affecting Asia and is genetically distinct.

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Charles Hatcher, DVM, Tennessee's state veterinarian, said wild birds can carry the virus strain.

Dr. Frazier has been working closely with USDA and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture this past week. The wild birds' feces is blamed for sickening chickens. Each year, the Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory tests approximately 22,000 samples from poultry for avian influenza. Agriculture and Industries officials are also reminding all people with domestic flocks, from backyard operations to commercial producers, to use proper biosecurity practices to protect their birds. The state department should be notified at 334-240-6584 and/or the U.S. Department of Agriculture should be notified at 866-536-7593 if birds show unusual signs of disease - i.e. flu-like symptoms - or flocks experiencing unexplained deaths.

Another highly pathogenic outbreak would likely represent a financial blow for poultry operators such as Tyson Foods Inc and Pilgrim's Pride Corp because it would kill more birds or require flocks to be culled. Other importing nations restricted imports from affected areas of the state, USDA data show.

The most recent investigation began following routine surveillance while executing Alabama's avian flu Preparedness and Response Plan.

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