Avian Flu Event: State Veterinarian Optimistic

INDIANAPOLIS (22 Jan. 2016)–Although tests in the Dubois County avian influenza incident continue to prove negative, much more work must still be completed before this event can be considered over, according to Indiana State Veterinarian Bret D. Marsh, DVM.

“We are optimistic with each day that yields more negative flock tests,” said Dr. Marsh. “But we are mindful that the situation could change, and that continued testing and surveillance are the vitally important next steps that will be ongoing for a few weeks.”

Weekly testing and monitoring of commercial poultry farms in the 10-kilometer control area will continue for several weeks as Indiana moves through the process to be declared avian flu-free. Indiana established an additional 10-kilometer surveillance zone with aggressive testing requirements to assure the industry and partners the disease is not present. Birds and eggs may be moved into and out of the control area only after negative testing.

In addition, state and federal teams have visited 1,935 residences in the 10 km control area to identify small/backyard flocks for testing. Tests of those 96 identified flocks, which are nearly complete, have all proven negative. After initial testing, these flocks will be retested in 14 days.

“The State Board of Animal Health continues our resolve to eliminate this virus wherever it is found,” Dr. Marsh said. “We know this virus is unpredictable, and it can pop-up again. So reporting bird illness and maintaining high biosecurity is vital to protecting Indiana poultry.”

Depopulation of the affected farms concluded Wednesday evening, Jan. 20. Disposal of the turkeys, via indoor composting, will be followed by thorough cleaning and disinfection of all barns on the 10 infected sites.

“The cooperation and diligence of the affected farmers have been vital to this response, and we encourage all Hoosiers to stay the course as this work continues,” added Marsh. “We still have a lot of work to do.”

Clinical signs of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) Birds affected with HPAI may show one or more of the following signs:

  • Sudden death without clinical signs;
  • Lack of energy and appetite;
  • Decreased egg production;
  • Soft-shelled or misshapen eggs;
  • Swelling of the head, eyelids, comb, wattles, and hocks;
  • Purple discoloration of the wattles, combs, and legs;
  • Nasal discharge;
  • Coughing, sneezing;
  • Incoordination;
  • Diarrhea. Hoosiers can also report dead wild birds (five or more) to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources at 812-334-1137. Avian influenza does not present a food safety risk; poultry and eggs are safe to eat. Dubois County is Indiana’s largest turkey-producing county, growing 1.4 million birds annually. The state ranks fourth in the nation in turkey production. As a major supplier of eggs, ducks and chickens, too, Indiana’s poultry industry generates $2.4 billion and employs 14,000 Hoosiers.Situation updates and status reports about ongoing avian influenza response activities, along with critical disease-related information, will be posted online at:  www.in.gov/boah/2390.htm. Users may subscribe to email updates on a link at that page.
  • UPDATES and INFORMATION:
  • About Indiana Poultry:
  • Although there have been no reported human cases of the H7N8 strain, the Dubois County Health Department continues to monitor those exposed for signs of illness.
  • Hoosier poultry owners who notice illness in their birds should report them to the Healthy Birds Hotline: 1-866-536-7593.

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