WASHINGTON – An Indiana-based commercial turkey flock is the site of the first case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the US since this past June. According to the US Dept. of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the flock is located in in southern Indiana’s Dubois County. USDA confirmed samples were taken from the facility after a spike in mortality rates and officials with Purdue Univ.’s Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory confirmed the samples tested positive for the virus the morning of Jan. 15. In a statement, APHIS said the strain is H7N8, which is a different strain that was linked to the outbreak in 2015. Neither strain is known to have caused infections in humans.

Officials have quarantined the premises as part of the predetermined response by state and federal animal health protocols and depopulation of the flock has begun.

Additionally, “federal and state partners are working jointly on additional surveillance and testing in the nearby area,” according to APHIS. “The rapid testing and response in this incident is the result of months of planning with local, state, federal and industry partners to ensure the most efficient and effective coordination.”

On the heels of the 2015 outbreak, APHIS published the “HPAI Fall Preparedness and Response Plan” this past September and the USDA has been stockpiling AI vaccinations for several months.

“The United States has the strongest AI surveillance program in the world, and USDA is working with its partners to actively look for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets and in migratory wild bird populations,” the APHIS statement said.