Georgia agriculture officials today announced that low-pathogenic H7 avian flu has been detected at a commercial poultry breeding operation in Chattooga County, the fourth southeastern state to report similar outbreaks.
No symptoms on presale screening
In a press release, the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) said the birds tested positive for H7 during routine presale screening and that the virus is presumed to be low pathogenic, because the flock did not show any signs of illness. Tests confirming that the virus is H7 were done by the US Department of Agriculture National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa.
The GDA said as a precaution, the affected flock has been depopulated and officials are testing and monitoring other flocks within the surveillance area. So far no poultry at other facilities have tested positive and none has shown any clinical symptoms.
Gary Black, Georgia's agriculture commissioner, said in the statement that poultry is the top sector in agriculture, the state's number one industry, and officials are committed to protecting the livelihoods of farm families. "In order to successfully do that, it is imperative that we continue our efforts of extensive biosecurity."
On Mar 16, based on avian flu activity in neighboring states, Georgia's state veterinarian temporarily suspended poultry exhibitions and gatherings as part of stepped-up control measures.
Enhanced surveillance in parts of Alabama
Georgia's Chattooga County is in the northwest part of the state on the Alabama border, and the surveillance zone placed around the outbreak farm includes portions of northeast Alabama, according to an update today from the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industry (ADAI).
Poultry technicians have collected samples from commercial and backyard flocks on sites in Alabama that are within the Georgia location's surveillance zone, and so far all samples have tested negative for avian influenza, the ADAI said.
Similar sampling is still under way for poultry flocks in the surveillance zone around a commercial breeder flock in Alabama's Cullman County, where low-pathogenic H7N9 was confirmed by the NVSL on March 22.
Tennessee and Kentucky have also reported recent low-pathogenic H7N9 detections, and Tennessee has also reported two outbreaks involving the highly pathogenic form of H7N9. Authorities have said the H7N9 strain that has struck the four southeastern states is related to North American wild bird lineages and has no genetic connection to the H7N9 strain sickening birds and people in China.
Mar 27 GDA press release
Mar 27 ADAI update