Highly pathogenic avian influenza is no longer in the rear-view mirror for U.S. poultry producers, with the bird-killing virus on the rise in California and making a comeback in Indiana, Minnesota and North Dakota after months-long respites.
California was spared as HPAI infected flocks on the eastern side of the country early this year, and as the virus moved across the country but was seemingly on the wane in recent weeks.
That is no longer the case. While the virus did not hit California’s poultry industry until August, the state has now seen six outbreaks among commercial producers in a three-week period, affecting more than 325,000 birds.
HPAI was confirmed on Tuesday at three commercial turkey meat producers, two in Sacramento County and one in Tuolumne County, collectively impacting 195,400 birds, according to USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
Prior outbreaks in California this month included two commercial broiler breeders in Fresno County, which led to the culling of 68,700 birds, and a commercial turkey meat facility in Tuolumne County, affecting 161,000 birds.
Nationwide, APHIS counts 418 confirmed detections of HPAI in commercial and backyard flocks in 48 states so far this year, impacting 40.57 million birds. The tally does not yet include the most recent infections in Indiana and Minnesota, two states that had not seen a commercial producer hit by HPAI in months, in the case of Indiana since April and for Minnesota since May.
Indiana — which last confirmed HPAI in backyard flocks in June — on Tuesday reported the virus had been detected in a hobby flock of chickens, ducks and geese in Elkhart County, the Indiana State Board of Animal Health said in an emailed update.
Further north, HPAI has been detected on a Minnesota poultry farm for the first time in three months, with an operation in Meeker County having to cull its flock of nearly 129,000 turkeys, the state Board of Animal Health said Wednesday in a statement.
“While the timing of this detection is a bit sooner than we anticipated, we have been preparing for a resurgence of the avian influenza we dealt with this spring,” said Dr. Shauna Voss, senior veterinarian. “HPAI is here and biosecurity is the first line of defense to protect your birds.”
In North Dakota, the state Department of Agriculture on Wednesday said HPAI was detected in a backyard chicken flock in the first new outbreak since June. The detection triggers the suspension of poultry and bird events across the state. If no new cases emerge in 30 days, the suspension will be automatically lifted, the department said in a press release.
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