The affected premises is under quarantine, commercial poultry flock culled.

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Federal and state authorities confirmed the presence of low pathogenic H7N9 avian influenza (LPAI) in a commercial poultry flock in western Kentucky, the Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture reported.

The Murray State Univ. Breathitt Veterinary Center, Hopkinsville, Kentucky, made the initial detection during a routine pre-slaughter test, according to the agency.  There were no clinical signs of the disease in the birds, but the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, confirmed the presence of the virus, said Kentucky State Veterinarian Robert Stout.

State officials quarantined the affected premises, which are in Christian County, and approximately 22,000 hens were culled as a precautionary measure, Stout said. LPAI may cause no disease or mild illness, however highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) can cause severe disease with high mortality in a flock.

The Office of the State Veterinarian and the Animal and Plant Health Administration (APHIS) of the US Dept. of Agriculture are conducting surveillance on flocks within a six-mile radius of the affected farm. Stout said the company that operates the farm is conducting additional surveillance testing on other commercial facilities the company operates in the area.

The Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture reported that poultry and egg sales generated an estimated $1.2 billion in cash receipts to Kentucky farmers in 2015. Kentucky farmers produced 307.7 million broilers and nearly 1.3 billion eggs in 2015.

New detections in Alabama

Meanwhile, State Veterinarian Tony Frazier confirmed that a flock of chickens at commercial poultry breeding operation in Pickens County, Alabama and backyard flock in Madison County, Alabama both tested positive for LPAI. Officials established surveillance zones surrounding the premises in both Pickens and Madison counties.

“The health of our poultry is critically important at this time,” Dr. Frazier said in a statement. “With confirmed cases of low pathogenic avian influenza in Alabama in both commercial and backyard flocks, the order reducing the assembly and commingling of poultry is the most effective way to practice strict biosecurity measures in our state.”

The virus was detected at the commercial poultry farm during routine screening, the Alabama Dept. of Agriculture & Industries reported. The samples from the Pickens County flock were submitted to the agency’s State Diagnostic Laboratory in Auburn, Alabama. The samples, which were suspected positive for avian influenza, were forwarded to the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa. NVSL confirmed the presence of LPAI in the commercials flock. The agency quarantined the flock and began control measures as a precaution.

(Updated to reflect new findings in Alabama.)