H5N8 infects second California poultry farm

by Erica Shaffer
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WASHINGTON – The US Department of Agriculture confirmed an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N8 at a commercial poultry farm in Kings County California. At least 114,000 birds are susceptible to the virus. USDA reported its findings to the World Animal Health Organization (OIE).

The outbreak hit the commercial chicken and duck farm on Feb. 2, according to the USDA's report to the OIE. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the USDA and launched an epidemiological investigation at the unidentified poultry farm. APHIS confirmed H5N8 virus in the flock on Feb. 12, and animal health officials quarantined the farm. APHIS reported that the detection of H5N8 at the farm is related to recent avian influenza outbreaks in wild birds.

This is the second outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza to strike a commercial poultry farm in California. Foster Farms discovered the presence of H5N8 avian influenza at the ranch of one of its turkey suppliers in rural Stanislaus County, Calif.

In response to the finding Hong Kong announced a ban of poultry meat and products, including eggs, produced in Kings County. The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) said about 267,000 tonnes of chilled and frozen poultry meat and about 530 million poultry eggs were imported into Hong Kong from the US in 2014.

"The CFS has contacted the American authorities over the issue and will closely monitor information issued by the OIE on avian influenza outbreaks in the country, a CFS spokesman said in a statement. Appropriate action will be taken in response to the development of the situation."

In late January, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency implemented restrictions on live birds, eggs, raw poultry products and pet foods from California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington States. News reports state China and South Korea also implemented bans on US poultry in response to previous avian influenza outbreaks in the US.
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