H7N8 – a new strain of bird flu virus – has shut down an Indiana poultry farm and hit a commercial flock of turkeys, the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed Friday.

This is the first confirmed avian influenza case at a poultry farm since the multi-state outbreak that hit the country last year. The USDA confirmed the incident Friday morning, prompting workers to isolate the farm and start slaughtering the birds and destroying their carcasses.

"This particular case is an H7N8 virus,” said Dr. T.J. Myers, associate deputy administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, dubbing it a “significant” virus that does not entail an immediate response for containment and transmission prevention.

Dr. Myers clarified that the virus strain is different from that of last year’s outbreak: the pathogenic H5N2 bird flu that killed around 48 million birds, caused traders to shun U.S. poultry products, and drove up egg prices.

The H7N8 strain identified in this new outbreak struck a Dubois County farm in Indiana. An official agriculture census in 2012 noted that Dubois Country sheltered around 1.4 million turkeys and the top county in the state for poultry production.

Officials said, however, that they do not know of any case in this recent outbreak in why the avian flu has been transferred to humans.

The exact cause of last year’s outbreak remains unknown. Dr. Myers said they did “quite a bit of epidemiological work,” and that there is no single factor to explain it.

He added, though, that poultry producers zeroed in on biosecurity efforts and are hoping they will suffice to prevent transmission this time around.

Numerous influenza strains infect birds, and they are designated not only by names but also by their ability to kill birds.

The H7N8 strain has been detected in ducks and wild birds in the United States, but remains a low-pathogenic kind that does not sicken the birds, according to the year-long testing program of the federal agency in July. It is also not known to have ever infected humans.

While there are bird flu vaccines for poultry, there is yet to be one for H7N8 in the U.S., with officials stressing that flu viruses undergo wild mutations and every vaccine should be created fresh for every strain.

The USDA, said Dr. Myers, is already getting in touch with trading partner-countries to avoid being slapped a blanket ban on imports.

Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture | Flickr

ⓒ 2021 TECHTIMES.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.