Virus that can be deadly to poultry found in Tennessee

In this 2012 photo provided by Bethany Hahn is a flock of turkeys at a Minnesota poultry farm. Midwestern states are struggling to contain a virulent strain of bird flu that has doomed millions of turkeys and chickens since March. (Bethany Hahn via AP)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A virus that can be deadly to domesticated chickens and turkeys has been detected in Tennessee.

H7 HPAI, a highly pathogenic strain of avian flu, was found in the sample of flock from a commercial chicken facility in Lincoln County.

The sample was taken after the facility contacted the state veterinarian’s office at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture on March 3 because of an increase in chicken deaths.

Testing was done by state and federal laboratories, confirming the presence of H7 HPAI.

To keep the virus from spreading, the affected flock is being depopulated. Also, the facility is under quarantine, along with 30 other poultry farms within a 6-mile radius.

“Animal health is our top priority,” explained state veterinarian, Dr. Charles Hatcher, DVM. “With this HPAI detection, we are moving quickly and aggressively to prevent the virus from spreading.”

According to state officials, HPAI does not pose a risk to the food supply and no affected animals entered the food chain.

Gov. Bill Haslam says they’re working to make sure this does not impact the local economy.

“Many Tennessee families rely on the poultry industry for their livelihoods, and the state is working closely with local, county and federal partners and the poultry industry to control the situation and protect the flocks that are critical to our state’s economy,” said Haslam.

You can expect several countries to ban any exports from the US, according to Dr. Maria Prado who is an assistant professor of practice at UT in animal science.

“Unfortunately, we are going to take a big hit not just for the state of Tennessee but in the country, because there will be some countries that will ban any product coming from the US. There wil be other countries that will be more flexible and allow exports from other states that are not affected,” she explained.

This is the first time H7 HPAI has been detected in Tennessee.

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