CDC monitoring avian flu outbreak in Tennessee

CDC monitoring avian flu outbreak in Tennessee

The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed that "highly pathogenic H7 avian influenza" was found in a commercial chicken flock in Tennessee, within the MS flyway.

The avian flu found on the Tennessee farm last week is the same strain as the virus in China that has killed a total of 328 people since 2013, but USDA says it is still genetically different.

On Monday, routine screening tests at the premises in Giles County, just west of Lincoln County, indicated the presence of avian influenza in the flock.

The cases also were both in facilities for breeding chickens for broilers and involved the H7N9 strain, according to Tennessee's agriculture department.

The first symptom of highly pathogenic bird flu, the kind that's nearly always fatal to domestic poultry, is typically birds dying en masse. Working with USDA and state health, emergency, agriculture and wildlife departments, LPH has developed plans for the prevention, detection and, if necessary, response to the disease. Cardona said most likely a low pathogenic virus originally infected the flock and evolved into the deadly, highly pathogenic form. The birds in the affected flock were killed.

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Wild migratory birds can carry flu viruses without showing symptoms and spread them to poultry through feces or feathers or other contact.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture says a farm in Giles County, Tenn., reported the strain on March 6.

In some regions of the world, bird flu different than found in the United States does affect people. "We urge our backyard growers to practice extreme caution during this period of heightened alert and consider moving poultry with outside access into biosecure housing immediately".

Avian, or "bird" flu has affected places on the mainland and strict measures have been in place for some time. He recommended chicken owners who have been around wild birds or other poultry change or disinfect their footwear before interacting with their own flock. As South Carolina State Veterinarian, Parr is director of Clemson University Livestock Poultry Health (LPH).