Extremely Contagious Bird Flu Found On Tennessee Chicken Farm

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture and its state counterparts in DE and Maryland have urged growers to increase security to prevent visitors or wild birds from coming into contact with their chicken flock.

This is the first known case of avian flu this year in the USA but China has confirmed 460 human infections since October.

The outbreak marks the first confirmed case of HPAI in commercial poultry this year in the U.S., said the department.

The United States stepped up biosecurity measures aimed at preventing the spread of bird flu after the outbreak two years ago. There were 108 poultry farms impacted within the state.

The commercial breeder where the outbreak was detected supplies Tyson Foods, but officials have declined to identify the breeder. But, live poultry imports are limited to farm birds from New Zealand, Australia and Canada. Most cases of human bird flu infections are due to contact with infected poultry or surfaces that are contaminated with infected bird excretions: saliva, nasal secretions and feces.

The company said that out of an abundance of caution, all Tyson-owned flocks are tested for avian flu before they leave a farm, and the company knows the results before they're processed.

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Over 73K birds at the farm will be euthanized in order to stop the HPAI bird flu from spreading.

The company said it tests all of its flocks for the virus before they leave the farm "out of an abundance of caution". Preventing these deadly outbreaks requires reforming how chickens are raised.

"Animal health is our top priority", said Dr. Charles Hatcher, the state veterinarian. Roughly 73,500 chickens were destroyed and 30 farms within a six-mile radius were quarantined after the discovery. It is the first time HPAI has been found in Tennessee, the state government said.

The avian flu viruses in Tennessee were found to be the highly pathogenic H7 strain, he added. Shere said it's possible the birds could have contracted the flu from a nearby pond where migrating water fowl were known to visit.

Though some HPAI strains can be much more serious for a person to catch, they generally aren't easily spreadable between people, and even bird-to-human transmission tends to require close, prolonged contact.

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