Tests confirm low-pathogenic AI at Texas broiler farm

by Erica Shaffer
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SULPHUR SPRINGS, Texas – A low-pathogenic strain of avian influenza was detected at a commercial broiler breeder farm in Hopkins County, Texas, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) reported. The latest detection of H7N1 is the second in 2018.

The H7N1 virus was discovered during routine, pre-slaughter testing and surveillance for H5/H7 avian influenza strains. The OIE said partial HA sequencing determined the virus to be a low pathogenic virus of North American wild bird lineage. Roughly 24,000 birds at the farm were exposed, according to OIE.

“The flock exhibited a slight increase in mortality and a decrease in egg production,” OIE said. “Depopulation of the premises is underway. The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Texas Animal Health Commission are conducting a comprehensive epidemiological investigation of this incident and have implemented enhanced surveillance and testing within 10 km of this finding.”

The first finding in 2018 of H7N1 occurred at a commercial turkey farm in Jasper County, Missouri, and was confirmed on March 3. There were no signs of illness or an increase in turkey deaths reported at the farm. At least 20,000 birds were culled through controlled marketing, which allows poultry infected with or exposed to low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) to be moved to market on limited basis.

LPAI causes only minor illness in birds, whereas high-pathogenic (HPAI) strains of the virus can spread rapidly and result in high death rates in bird flocks.

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