High-path H7N9 confirmed on second Tennessee farm

Federal animal health officials have confirmed a highly pathogenic H7N9 avian flu outbreak at a second farm in Tennessee, as Alabama agriculture authorities wait for test results to see if three recent outbreaks in neighboring areas are related.

Second Lincoln County farm affected

In a statement today, the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said Tennessee's second high-path H7N9 outbreak occurred in another commercial breeder flock in Lincoln County. The outbreak location is within 3 kilometers of Tennessee's first outbreak, and the most recently affected flock contains 55,000 birds and is located on the Mississippi River flyway.

Earlier this week Tennessee also reported a low-pathogenic H7N9 outbreak at a commercial farm in neighboring Giles County. Genetic tests on the strains from Tennessee have shown that all gene segments are related to North American wild bird lineages and are not related to the H7N9 virus sickening birds and people in China.

APHIS said birds in the latest Lincoln County outbreak showed signs of illness and increased deaths and that tests conducted at Tennessee's Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory were confirmed by the USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) said the second outbreak location was in the existing control zone, adding that depopulation began on Mar 14 after initial tests confirmed the virus.

Charles Hatcher, DVM, Tennessee's state veterinarian, said wild birds can carry the virus strain. "Given the close proximity of the two premises, this is not unexpected. We will continue to execute our plan, working quickly to prevent the virus from spreading further," he said.

State and federal health officials continue to test poultry in areas around the three outbreak sites, and so far no other flocks have shown signs of illness.

Alabama probe continues

On Mar 14, Alabama agriculture officials announced three avian flu outbreaks near the Tennessee border in a closely watched area that was part of the control zone in the Tennessee outbreaks. Officials haven't said what avian flu strains are involved and said samples were on their way for testing at the NVSL in Iowa.

The outbreaks involve a commercial breeder in Lauderdale County, a backyard flock in Madison County, and poultry from a flea market in Jackson County.

Yesterday, as part of its response, the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries announced a temporary ban on poultry exhibitions. Earlier this week, officials had ordered a halt to poultry movements in certain parts of the state.

See also:

Mar 16 APHIS press release

Mar 16 TDA press release

Mar 14 CIDRAP News story "Alabama officials investigate 3 avian flu detections"

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