Affected Farm Owners Taking Precaution So Virus Does Not Spread

DUBOIS (NNDC) – A northeast Dubois farm has been identified as the farm where the first case of Avian bird flu has been confirmed in the United States since this past June.

The farm is owned by Steve Kalb and his father. Kalb confirmed the infection. He and his father Dan raise the turkeys for Farbest Foods of Huntingburg. Farbest owns the birds.

Kalb tells NewsNow Dubois County the state board of health and the U. S. Department of Agriculture have taken over the farm’s operation. Plans are to euthanize the estimated 60,000 turkeys as a precaution even though the USDA says Avian influenza does not present a food safety risk and the poultry and eggs are safe to eat. The Centers for Disease Control considers the risk of illness to humans to be very low.

Kalb says the affected area of his farm “has been quarantined and none of the birds will be processed for human consumption.”

The Kalb farm has been raising turkeys since 1977. Steve joined his father 22 years ago in 1993. They are the only two employees of the farm. He says he has no idea how this strain of flu affected the farm. He says he and his dad take all necessary preventive measures to prevent flu stains and other diseases from affecting the birds, including disinfecting buildings on the farm.

The USDA says this strain of Avian Flu (called H7N8) is rare to not only Indiana, but in the United States as well.

Though only the animals have been quarantined, Kalb says he is voluntarily remaining on the farm until the birds are destroyed to avoid any risk of the flu spreading. Though the risk to humans contracting the virus is virtually non-existent.

Kalb says he is doing everything he can to make sure the virus does not spread beyond the borders of his farm which is just north and west of Dubois.

Kalb says no one other than health officials will be permitted on the farm at this time. He says a decontamination zone has been set up at the farm for those needing to get on the property.

A Farbest veterinarian delivered samples from the flock to the state board of health for testing, after several hundred birds died, this according to Indiana State Veterinarian Bret Marsch DVM.

Marsh says, “This strain is unrelated to those identified in the Upper Midwest in 2015, nor is it related to the HPAI case identified in a Northeastern Indiana backyard poultry flock that was affected last May.”

Indiana Governor Mike Pence stated, “Indiana is one of the largest poultry states in America, and I have directed all relevant agencies to bring the full resources of the state of Indiana to bear on containing and resolving the issue as quickly as possible. Multiple state agencies have been heavily focused for nearly a year on the
necessary steps in this type of event, including the State Board of Animal Health, Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Indiana State Poultry Association, and several private sector partners.
Hoosiers can be assured that we are taking all precautions to contain the situation and minimize the effects to Indiana’s robust poultry industry.”

Indiana’s poultry industry ranks fourth nationally in turkey production, first in duck production, third in eggs, and is a significant producer of broiler chickens. The poultry industry employs more than 14,000 Hoosiers and is valued at $2.5 billion.

Backyard poultry owners are encouraged to be aware of the signs of avian influenza and report illness and/or death to the USDA Healthy Birds Hotline: 866-536-7593.

Callers will be routed to a state or federal veterinarian in Indiana for a case assessment. Dead birds should be double-bagged and refrigerated for possible testing.

This is the first case of bird flu in Indiana in 2016. While the disease was found on 219 sites in 16 states in the United States last year, Indiana had only one backyard flock of 76 birds affected in 2015. This event marks the first case in a commercial flock in Indiana.

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