U.S. finds first avian flu in poultry since June

(Scott Bauer photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters –– An Indiana turkey flock has been infected with a deadly type of bird flu in the first new case of the disease in U.S. poultry since June, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Friday.

The flock in Dubois County, Indiana, was infected with a highly pathogenic (“high-path”) strain of H7N8, as opposed to the H5N2 or H5N8 strains seen on 219 U.S. farms last year, leading to the deaths of over 48 million chickens and turkeys, according to USDA.

Indiana officials quarantined the farm with the infected turkeys and the birds are being killed to prevent the spread of the disease, the USDA said.

The outbreak will likely cause new restrictions on U.S. poultry exports.

Last year’s outbreak cost exporters millions of dollars in lost business as trading partners limited deals from states and counties with infected flocks. Some countries, such as China, halted all imports of U.S. poultry.

The 2015 outbreak also sent U.S. egg prices to record highs and tightened supplies of turkey meat.

Birds from the Indiana turkey flock will not enter the food system, according to the USDA. There are no known cases of H7N8 infections in humans, the department said.

The Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University tested samples from flock, and USDA confirmed the turkeys were infected with bird flu.

The virus is thought to be spread by wild ducks, which can carry the disease without becoming infected and transmit it to poultry through feces and feathers.

Indiana saw just one affected site during last year’s outbreaks, a backyard mixed-poultry operation confirmed in May with H5N8, affecting a still-unconfirmed number of birds.

Tom Polansek reports on agriculture and ag commodity markets for Reuters from Chicago. Includes files from AGCanada.com Network staff.

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