JEFFERSON CITY, MO. – A total of 360,459 turkey and chickens from commercial and backyard flocks across four Missouri counties have been culled after federal animal health officials confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza between March 3 and March 9. On March 3, positive cases were confirmed in a flock of commercial broiler chickens totaling about 295,000 birds in Stoddard County, Mo. On March 4, HPAI was confirmed in a backyard, non-commercial flock of 51 non-poultry birds in Bates County followed by the March 8 confirmation of a commercial turkey flock in Jasper County, which included more than 28,500 birds. An additional flock of commercial turkey breeder replacement hens in Lawrence County tested positive for HPAI on March 9.

Besides depopulating the affected flocks, Missouri Department of Agriculture veterinarians ordered quarantines at the premises and have ensured no birds from those properties would enter the food supply chain.

“The Missouri Department of Agriculture is working closely with federal animal health officials to contain and eliminate the disease,” said Chris Chinn, director of agriculture. “Protecting the health and welfare of livestock and poultry is a top priority. We encourage both commercial and backyard poultry producers to tighten their biosecurity protocols to help stop the spread of the virus.”

The Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Animal Health Division is collaborating with federal officials to implement surveillance and testing farms in the vicinity of the infected flocks.

“Avian influenza does not present a food safety risk,” Chinn added. “Poultry and eggs are safe to eat when handled and cooked properly.”