NASHVILLE – The office of the state veterinarian for Tennessee confirmed on March 9 that a second chicken breeding facility in the state has tested positive for low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI), this one in Giles County, Tennessee. The news comes on the heels of the announcement of another case of AI on March 5, a highly pathogenic strain (H7NX) in Lincoln County, Tennessee, which affected a commercial flock of 73,500 birds at a chicken breeding operation that contracts with Tyson Foods.
In a statement from state animal health officials, the latest case is at a farm operated by a different company and there was no initial evidence linking the two outbreaks. Laboratories at the state and federal level confirmed the presence of the H7N9 strain in samples after routine screening tests at the facility. The flock size was not specified, but State Veterinarian Charles Hatcher DVM, confirmed the response was swift, which included culling and burying the flock and establishing a quarantine zone within a 6.2-mile radius of the site.
“This is why we test and monitor for avian influenza,” Hatcher said. “When routine testing showed a problem at this facility, the operators immediately took action and notified our lab. That fast response is critical to stopping the spread of this virus.”
The quarantine area around the Lincoln County premises remains under quarantine and according to animal health officials, no other samples have tested positive to date. Officials also reiterated that AI is an animal health issue that poses no threat to the food supply and that none of affected birds entered the food-supply chain.
State officials encourage operators of poultry production facilities of all sizes to vigilantly monitor the health of their flocks during this time while maintaining good biosecurity practices and to utilize resources to ensure the safety of their facilities. The plan for the control of avian influenza includes coordination of local, county, state and federal resources and response, and protocols for quarantine, testing, disposal, cleaning, disinfection and monitoring.