Avian flu virus found in another Texas flock

Jun 24, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – Avian influenza cropped up in a flock of 14 poultry about 4½ miles from where two large commercial chicken flocks were destroyed because of the same virus in May, the Texas Animal Health Commission said (TAHC) yesterday.

The flock of 10 chickens and 4 ducks tested positive Jun 22 for an H7N3 virus, the same strain that led to the euthanization of 48,000 breeding chickens in the area recently, the TAHC said in a news release. The small flock was immediately destroyed and burned, and additional testing of flocks in the area will now be necessary, officials said. The birds had shown no signs of illness, TAHC spokeswoman Carla Everett told CIDRAP News.

"This turn of events is disappointing to us and the area's poultry growers, but it demonstrates why widespread, repeated flock testing is necessary during an AI outbreak," Dr. Max Coats, deputy director of the TAHC's animal health programs, said in the news release. "This infected flock was one of more than 315 in a 300-square-mile area that tested negative a little more than two weeks ago."

Coats said the second round of testing in the area was nearly finished when the National Veterinary Services Laboratory reported the test results on the small flock. Some flocks in the area will have to be retested again to assure trading partners that the disease has been eradicated, he said. In addition, the surveillance area will have to be changed, because the testing protocol calls for testing within 10 miles of an infected flock, he added.

Routine blood tests revealed the H7N3 virus in the two commercial flocks, which had not shown signs of illness. No other infected flocks had been found in the area until this week.

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