Bird Flu Strain Detected In Tennessee Farm Under Tyson Foods Contract


Officials of U.S. Department of Agriculture have placed a chicken breeder facility in south-central Tennessee in quarantine after the facility was found infected with H7 strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

It was the first confirmed case of H7 strain in the United States this year and the first ever in Tennessee, government officials said.

The facility, located in Lincoln County and an outgrower of Tyson Foods Inc., was not named.

Tyson, meanwhile, said it is coordinating closely with the state and federal officials to contain the spread of the virus by culling out some 73,500 infected birds in the farm.

Biosecurity Measures

Measures to contain the virus have already been undertaken. This includes the quarantine of 30 other poultry farms within the 6.2-mile (10-kilometer) radius from the infected site while the testing of other flocks in the area continued.

Tyson, the country's giant chicken meat producer, said other precautions are being undertaken. Stricter regulations such as disinfecting all incoming vehicles and limiting visitor access to contracted farms have been installed.

Improved biosecurity measures were undertaken by U.S. after an HPAI outbreak two years ago where almost 50 million egg-laying chickens were culled. The 2014 to 2015 outbreak involved an H5N2 strain.

By Monday, March 6, USDA is expecting to gather more information on HPAI, which was first detected in a commercial turkey facility in Indiana in January 2016.

The agency had also found strain of bird flu in wild duck similar to the 2014 and 2015 outbreak in Montana last January.

USDA spokesperson Donna Karlsons said the agency will notify the World Organization for Animal Health and trading partners of the outbreak.

Effects To Supply

Tennessee is not in the top 5 producers of chicken meat in the United States despite it being the third largest revenue generator in agriculture for the state.

During the 2014 and 2015 HPAI outbreak, egg prices soared high, and some trading partners such as Mexico and Canada imposed a ban on imports of poultry products from the country.

Tyson, however, downplayed the effect of the confirmed case of avian flu to its supply.

Recent months saw the prevalence of different strains of avian flu in Asia and Europe.

Low Risk To Humans

The H7 virus is known to have low risk of human infection unlike the most common strain, H5N1, of bird flu.

The H5N1 strain, according to World Health Organization, was first detected in 1997 in humans. Around 60 percent of those infected died.

The good news is that the virus does not spread through human contact.

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