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Avian flu detected in Tennessee, poultry sales stopped

A strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has sickened a poultry flock in West Tennessee, and a State Veterinarian has ordered an immediate halt to poultry shows, exhibitions, and sales statewide.

The affected backyard flock in Obion County consists of chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, pheasants, and pigeons.

“With HPAI, it’s critical we move quickly to stop the virus from spreading,” Tennessee State Veterinarian Dr. Samantha Beaty said. “We appreciate the flock owner for contacting us immediately when unexpected deaths occurred. We have protocols in place for instances like this and we are working closely with our state and federal partners to get this situation under control.”

For now, any events where poultry can comingle are prohibited. That includes poultry shows, exhibitions, livestock sales, flea markets, and swap meets.

“Issuing an order like this is never an easy decision, especially during fair season,” Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “From backyard flock owners to the large commercial companies—the poultry industry touches a lot of lives in Tennessee. This is an effort to protect all domesticated poultry in our state.”

The affected farm is under quarantine and the flock is being depopulated to stop potential spread of the illness.

Animal health officials have established a 12.4 mile surveillance zone surrounding the site.

Within the zone, other flocks will be tested and monitored for illness and poultry movement is restricted. That zone includes a portion of Kentucky. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is partnering with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture to coordinate response.

Although HPAI does not pose a food safety risk, no infected poultry will be allowed to enter the food supply. Poultry and eggs are safe to eat when handled and cooked properly. The risk of human infection with avian influenza during poultry outbreaks is very low. In fact, no transmission to humans was reported during the outbreak that affected commercial poultry farms in Tennessee in 2017.

Owners of backyard and commercial poultry flocks are encouraged to:

  • Closely observe domesticated birds and report a sudden increase in the number of sick birds or bird deaths to the Tennessee State Veterinarian’s office at (615) 837-5120. (In Tennessee/Kentucky, you can report to USDA at 1(866) 536-7593)
  • Prevent contact with wild birds.
  • Practice good biosecurity with your poultry. More information can be found online at http://healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov/.
  • Enroll in the National Poultry Improvement Plan, the Secure Broiler Supply Plan, and the Secure Egg Supply Plan as appropriate for your operation.