Avian influenza update

by Erica Shaffer
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WASHINGTON – The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the US Department of Agriculture confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza in a turkey flock owned by Foster Farms.

APHIS said samples from the flock were tested at the California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory System (CAHFS) and APHIS confirmed the results. APHIS and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) are cooperating on an incident command response. The federal agency will help CDFA culled the remaining birds on the property to prevent the spread of the disease.

Foster Farms discovered the presence of avian influenza at the ranch in rural Stanislaus County, Calif. USDA quarantined the ranch and culled the birds.

Federal and state agencies are cooperating on additional surveillance and testing in the nearby area, following existing avian influenza response plans, USDA said. Additionally, USDA will contact the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) about the HPAI findings.

While USDA moved to quarantine the turkey ranch, the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) adopted an emergency rule to establish a quarantine zone of six miles in parts of Okanogan County. The zone is around a site in Riverside, Wash., where avian influenza was confirmed in a flock of game birds.

However, an earlier quarantine in parts of Benton and Franklin counties was lifted Jan. 27.

A team of USDA veterinarians visited the area to contact flock owners and collect samples for testing. Meanwhile the site of the infected flock is under quarantine and no birds are being moved from the property, WSDA said.

The avian influenza strains found in California and Washington State present no threat to human health. But some strains do affect humans. The Public Health Agency of Canada reported an individual in British Columbia recently tested positive for the H7N9 avian influenza strain following a trip to China.

“The individual was not symptomatic during travel and only became ill after arrival in Canada,” the agency said. “This is the first documented case of H7N9 infection in a human in North America.”

Public Health Agency of Canada said all close contacts of the individual were notified and their health is being monitored by provincial public health authorities.

Currently, no travel restrictions have been issued in response to the case, but a travel health notice was posted to advise Canadian travelers.

“We will continue to monitor this situation very closely and advise Canadians as appropriate,” the agency said.
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