Last Friday, March 3rd, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture was alerted to an increase in chicken deaths at a commercial chicken breeder facility in Lincoln County. Testing showed the presence of H7 HPAI (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza) in samples from the flock. The chickens at this particular breeder facility were owned by Tyson.
The facility was immediately put under quarantine, along with 30 other poultry farms within a 10-mile radius.
Tuesday, staff from the Tennessee Dept of Agriculture, along with the State Veterinarian Dr. Charlie Hatcher held a press conference.
Jai Templeton, TN Agriculture Commissioner, said that this is the first case of HPAI in Tennessee and that staff has worked around the clock to initiate their plan to stop the spread of this illness.
“One of the keys to controlling this is to depopulate within 24 hours, which is exactly what has happened,” said Dr. Charles Hatcher, State Veterinarian.
Templeton also stressed that this is a wild bird illness and there is “little to no risk to human health.” However, out of an abundance of caution, the state will monitor the health and safety of those working the sites.
Prior to this HPAI case, the most recent U.S. detection was in January of 2016 in a commercial turkey flock in Indiana.
There have been no clinical signs from the surrounding chicken farms of bird flu and the first round of testing of the surrounding farms had negative results.
This is the first time highly pathogenic avian influenza has been detected in Tennessee, however low path avian influenza has affected Tennessee poultry flocks in the past. State officials and partners have extensive experience in effectively containing the virus. The plan for the control of avian influenza includes coordination of resources and response, and protocols for quarantine, testing, disposal, cleaning, disinfection and monitoring.