Local Responders Turn Out In Force For Behind-The-Scenes Role To Fight Bird Flu

JASPER (From Sources) – Public safety professionals in Dubois County have played a behind-the-scenes but important role in the response to avian flu detected recently in commercial turkey flocks. “They haven’t been out front due to the type of response, but their participation and expertise has been paramount,” said Dr. Brett Marsh of the Indiana State Board of Animal Health. “We could not have accomplished what we have without local team partners.”

The firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians and health officials who call Dubois County home have braved long hours, severe cold and stressful conditions to keep residents safe and to help stop the flu from spreading to other bird flocks. They are among 518 professionals from local, state and federal agencies, and from private organizations, joining forces to combat the avian flu challenge on the front lines in the southwestern Indiana county.

The following local organizations have assisted in the incident response:

  • The Dubois County Health Department has assisted by interviewing and monitoring the responders, farm personnel and residents who have been involved in the incident.
  •  The Dubois County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) has continuously provided personnel and resources for the response efforts and has been assisted by emergency management staff from the following EMAs: the Knox County EMA, Daviess County EMA, Martin County EMA, Gibson County EMA, Pike County EMA, Crawford County EMA, Posey County EMA, Vanderburgh County EMA, Warrick County EMA, Spencer County EMA, and Perry County EMA.
  •  Memorial Hospital and Healthcare has provided equipment and nursing staff to assist in specimen collection. The Memorial Hospital Behavioral Health Service and the Southern Hills Counseling Center are providing counseling and mental health services for individuals in the community and those involved in the incident.

 

  • The City of Jasper has provided equipment, and the Jasper Street Department has helped plow snow from parking lots offered by the Vincennes University Jasper campus to provide parking for incident personnel. The Dubois County Highway Department has salted roadways and laid rock to make incident areas more accessible for responders. The Dubois County Commissioners and all members of the Dubois County Council have regularly visited the Incident Command Post and offered county assistance. The Dubois County Sheriff’s Department has made all personnel available if needed for the incident. The Dubois Water Utility and Patoka Regional Water have supplied water for depopulation efforts.

The following fire departments have supplied tankers and personnel for water transport to assist in depopulation efforts:

Birdseye Fire Department, Celestine Fire Department, Dubois Fire Department, Ferdinand Fire Department, Haysville Fire Department, Holland Fire Department, Huntingburg Fire Department, Ireland Fire Department, Jasper Fire Department, St. Anthony Fire Department, St. Henry Fire Department and the Schnellville Fire Department.

The American Red Cross has assisted by providing food and support to responders.

The Brett Collignon and Dubois County 4-H Council has allowed the fairgrounds to be used as a staging area for incident response.

John Erickson, Indiana Department of Homeland Security Director of Public Information, said, “Everyone plays a role. Local responders have been low key and effective. This enterprise wouldn’t have been nearly as successful without the local teams.”

A case of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza – specifically, a virus known as H7N8 – was detected in a Dubois County commercial turkey flock on January 15. A “low pathogenic” form of the virus, which can mutate into the more severe form found on the original site, was detected at an additional nine sites in the county. Birds at the 10 sites were humanely euthanized to help stop the virus from spreading.

Dubois is Indiana’s largest turkey-producing county, producing 1.4 million birds annually. Indiana ranks fourth in the nation in turkey production. As a major supplier of eggs, ducks and chickens, in addition to turkeys, Indiana’s poultry industry generates $2.4 billion and employs 14,000 Hoosiers.

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