State and federal authorizes have found a single Perdue breeder flock in Western Kentucky to have been infected with a non-pathogenic or low pathogenic avian influenza. USDA’a National Veterinary Services Laboratory has identified it as an H7N9 avian influenza. The strain poses minimal risk to human health and is not the high-pathogenic strain associated with human and poultry deaths in other countries.
State Veterinarian Robert C. Stout has quarantined the farm, which produces hatching eggs for Perdue Farms, Inc. The flock at issue has been humanely destroyed and disposed of through environmentally sound methods. All Purdue farms within six miles of the affected flock have been tested and all findings have been negative.
“The state and federal government and Perdue are acting aggressively to contain and eliminate the disease,” Dr. Stout said. “There is no evidence that any infected poultry are in the human food supply as a result of this infection. We will do what is necessary to minimize the disruption to overseas trade.”
There has been no impact on the safety of chicken products. This flock is not a meat bird flock but produces hatching eggs. None of the affected birds ever left the farm where antibodies to the virus were found, and low pathogenic avian influenza is not transmitted via eggs.
“I have been in constant contact with state, federal and industry officials since this came to light,” Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer said. “The people of Kentucky and our trading partners should rest assured that we are doing everything possible to address the situation.”
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture is conducting surveillance on backyard flocks within a two-mile radius of the farm. A minimal drop in egg production at the farm was noticed in mid-March. Perdue’s veterinary services laboratory took samples from chickens at the farm and found antibodies for avian influenza. Testing by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa resulted in the positive findings for H7N9.
No virus has been isolated and no poultry deaths have been found in connection with the infection. The surveillance and testing of the flocks for avian influenza is working as intended to prevent infected birds from ever leaving the farm. Furthermore, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no risk of contracting bird flu from properly handled and cooked poultry.
Avian influenza is a virus that affects domestic poultry and some wild birds. It is spread to healthy birds by direct contact with infected birds or infected material, often through feces from infected birds. Low pathogenic avian influenza is not transmitted through eggs. Low pathogenic avian influenza causes little if any illness in poultry and is rarely fatal to poultry.
Randall Smith said the Department of Agriculture arrived in Grayson County last Friday and were scheduled to leave Thursday, April 09, 2009.