Mild strain of AI prompts turkey cull in Missouri

by Erica Shaffer
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Animal health officials culled 39,000 turkeys after an outbreak of H5N1 low-pathogenic avian influenza was discovered at a commercial turkey farm in Jasper County, Missouri, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) reported in a Disease Alert.

OIE said in the alert that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the US Department of Agriculture and the Missouri Dept. of Agriculture have launched an epidemiological investigation into the outbreak. Additionally, officials implemented enhanced surveillance and testing.

“Samples were initially collected from healthy, non-clinical turkeys as part of the routine, pre-slaughter surveillance that is done under the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) Avian Influenza Clean Program (H5 and H7),” OIE said in the alert. “Through this routine surveillance H5N1 low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) of North American wild bird lineage was identified and confirmed…”

Last year more than 49 million chickens and turkeys were culled during an outbreak of highly-pathogenic avian influenza. And in January this year, an outbreak of highly-pathogenic H7N8 bird flu at nine turkey farms in Dubois County, Indiana, led to the cull of 258,045 turkeys, according to the Indiana Board of Animal Health website, and 156,178 laying hens because of proximity to infected turkeys.

On May 2, BOAH officials officially lifted the last remaining quarantine associated with that outbreak after the state achieved 90 consecutive days with no new cases of H7N8 HPAI.

“In hindsight, we feel we got ahead of this virus by testing neighboring farms the first day,” State Veterinarian Bret Marsh, DVM, said in a statement. “The discovery of so many AI-positive sites — nine — in one day was unheard of, even at the height of the 2015 event. Our teams in the field had to scale-up, overnight. But we did it, and completed the task, in 38 days.”

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