U.S – Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been confirmed in a commercial turkey flock in Dubois County, Indiana, making it the first confirmed case of HPAI in commercial poultry in the United States since 2020.

HPAI is a serious disease and requires rapid response because it is highly contagious and often fatal. It can infect poultry, such as chickens and turkeys, as well as free-flying waterfowl like ducks, geese and shorebirds.

This was announced by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), after laboratory analysis.

Samples from the affected flock, which experienced increased mortality, were tested at the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University, part of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, and confirmed at the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa. Virus isolation is ongoing.

APHIS is working closely with the Indiana Board of Animal Health on a joint incident response. State officials quarantined the affected premises, and birds on the property were depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease.

As part of existing avian influenza response plans, federal and state partners are working jointly on additional surveillance and testing in the nearby area.

The new case in Indiana known as H5N1 strain follows earlier detection of the virus in wild birds that were hunted in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Florida.

It marks Indiana’s first case of H5N1 infection amongst commercial poultry since 2016, as reported by Reuters. During that 2016 outbreak, more than a dozen commercial flocks in the state were affected and upwards of 400,000 birds were culled, according to the IndyStar.

While it is the first case of HPAI in commercial poultry in the United States, it is the second in North America. A flock of 11,800 commercial turkeys in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia was also recently affected by HPAI.

USDA will report this finding to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) as well as international trading partners. USDA also continues to communicate with trading partners to encourage adherence to OIE standards and minimize trade impacts.

HPAI hits other states

There were also detections of the virus in non-commercial birds in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, backyard flock in Virginia, and commercial broiler flock in Fulton County, Kentucky.

Moreover, cases of avian flu have extended all the way to the European Union. As of February 6, 2022, 15 European countries had registered one or more outbreaks of HPAI  in poultry so far this year.

This is according to the Animal Disease Information System of the European Commission (EC) which till that date had registered 363 outbreaks, an increase of 70 since the previous edition in January 30th.

Registering the most outbreaks has been France with 258 for the year to that date, followed by Hungary (29), Poland (17), and Italy and Germany each with 14 cases.

The first outbreaks of the year occurred in poultry in Kosovo, Moldova, and Spain. Also reporting new cases through the system since the end of last month were Bulgaria, the Netherlands, and Portugal.

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