Bird flu outbreak at Tennessee poultry farm confirmed after chicken deaths

Commercial chicken breeding facility among about 30 others under quarantine, as US Department of Agriculture reports no risk to food supply

A commercial chicken breeding facility in south-central Tennessee has been hit by a strain of bird flu, agriculture officials said on Sunday.

The state agriculture department said in a news release that tests confirmed the presence of the H7 strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI, at a facility in Lincoln County. The facility alerted the state veterinarians office on Friday, after an increase in chicken deaths.

The statement did not name the facility. The facility and about 30 other poultry farms within about a six-mile radius of the site are under quarantine.

Animal health is our top priority, said Dr Charles Hatcher, the state veterinarian. With this HPAI detection, we are moving quickly and aggressively to prevent the virus from spreading.

The US Department of Agriculture said 73,500 chickens are in the facilitys flock.
Officials said HPAI poses no risk to the food supply, and no affected chickens entered the food chain.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPAI can cause up to 100% mortality in flocks, often within 48 hours.

Many Tennessee families rely on the poultry industry for their livelihoods, and the state is working closely with local, county and federal partners and the poultry industry to control the situation and protect the flocks that are critical to our states economy, Tennessee governor Bill Haslam said.

According to the Tennessee Poultry Association, there are more than 1,650 commercial broiler and breeder houses on more than 550 family farms in the state. The state ranks 13th nationally in broiler production and processing with more than six million birds per week at five plants.

The statement said the most recent US detection of HPAI was in January 2016 in a commercial turkey flock in Indiana. More than 414,000 turkeys and chickens were euthanized to contain the outbreak.

In 2015, US poultry producers, primarily in the upper midwest, lost more than 48 million birds to bird flu. Minnesota, the countrys top turkey producer, and Iowa, the top chicken-egg producer, were the hardest-hit states.

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