Low-path avian flu surfaces on Kansas poultry farm

Kansas officials announced today that a low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) virus has struck a farm in Crawford County near the state's southeastern corner, about 2 weeks after a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus hit a backyard flock in a northeastern county.

Meanwhile, Taiwan reported two more HPAI H5N2 outbreaks, and Palestinian officials reported an H5N1 outbreak.

Kansas strain not identified

The Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) announced in a statement that it learned yesterday that samples from a poultry flock in Crawford County had tested positive for LPAI. The agency did not specify the virus subtype, the kind of poultry affected, or the size of the flock.

The KDA also did not explain whether the virus was found through routine surveillance or if testing was prompted by visible illness in the flock. Further details were not available this afternoon from the KDA or the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Low-pathogenic viruses may cause no illness or only mild symptoms in poultry.

The flock will be depopulated tomorrow by "company officials" and buried at the site, the KDA statement said. It added that an environmentally acceptable area for burying the birds has been identified. Because the virus is low-pathogenic, the farm will not be quarantined, the agency said.

"We are dedicated to providing the necessary assistance and precautions to avoid any possible spreading of the disease," Kansas Animal Health Commissioner Bill Brown, DVM, said in the statement. "Even though this is the low path variety, it still requires immediate action, and animal health officials are responding."

Today's announcement follows the report on Mar 13 of an HPAI H5N2 outbreak in a backyard poultry flock in Leavenworth County in northeastern Kansas, near Kansas City. Also, the new outbreak is not very far from the Carthage, Mo., area, where an HPAI H5N2 outbreak in a commercial turkey flock was reported on Mar 8.

In Minnesota, meanwhile, state officials said today that no infections were found in a second round of testing of backyard flocks in the wake of an H5N2 outbreak in turkeys that was reported early this month.

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health (MBAH) said 30 backyard flocks within a control zone surrounding the outbreak farm in western Minnesota were tested a second time under USDA requirements. The affected farm remains under quarantine.

Taiwan, Palestinian outbreaks

In other developments, Taiwan, which has battled many avian flu outbreaks in the past few months, today reported two more H5N2 outbreaks. In a report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), officials said the virus hit two goose farms in Chiayi County on the southwestern part of the island.

The virus was found after abnormal deaths prompted testing of the geese. Of 7,800 susceptible geese, 3,574 died, and the rest were culled to prevent further outbreaks, the report said. It said the farms have been quarantined, and other farms within 3 kilometers will be under special surveillance for 3 months, in accord with Taiwan's usual procedures.

And in other news, a Palestinian veterinary official yesterday reported to the OIE an H5N1 outbreak in a backyard chicken flock in the Jerusalem portion of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The report said 25 layers in a flock of 40 were sick and 15 died, prompting the culling of the surviving hens.

See also:

Mar 25 KDA press release

Mar 16 CIDRAP News story on Kansas H5N2 outbreak

Mar 25 MBAH update

Mar 25 Taiwan OIE report

Mar 24 Palestinian OIE report

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