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Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Detected in South Carolina Flock

Updated: Apr 17


The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, confirmed a case of highly pathogenic H7N3 avian influenza (HPAI) in a commercial turkey flock in Chesterfield County, South Carolina, April 9, 2020.

According to USDA, this is the first confirmed case of HPAI in commercial poultry in the United States since 2017. It appears this strain mutated from a low-pathogenic strain that has been found in poultry in that area recently.

Alabama State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier said they are monitoring the situation and that there is no immediate threat to flocks in Alabama, but growers should always exercise strict biosecurity measures.


“The State Veterinarian’s office in South Carolina is working closely with USDA/APHIS/Veterinarian Services to bring a swift end to the situation and stop the spread by activating its Avian Influenza Response Plan,” Frazier said. “I have informed Commissioner Pate, and we will be monitoring the situation closely. Although there is no urgent threat to Alabama flocks, we urge all poultry growers to continue implementing safe biosecurity practices.”

The following are basic biosecurity measures that should always be practiced.

· Secure poultry houses against wild birds, pets, and livestock.

· Restrict visitor access to poultry houses and coups.

· Have dedicated shoes and clothing for use in the poultry house only. They are not to be worn anywhere else.

· Establish a rodent and insect control program.

· Do not visit other flocks of poultry and then enter your poultry house without first washing and disinfecting thoroughly.

· Do not go into a poultry house after contact with any other birds (waterfowl, wild birds, pet birds, other show flocks or backyard flocks). This includes contact with birds during hunting activities.

· Do not introduce new birds to your flock that have not been tested for AI, unless they come from an AI-free certified supplier.

· Thoroughly wash and disinfect any shared equipment before transferring between premises (scales, pens, feeders, drinkers, etc.). Sanitize facility between flocks.

· Properly dispose of bedding material and mortalities.

· If you see an increase in sick or dying birds, seek veterinary assistance immediately.

All poultry growers should report any suspicious cases to the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries’ Poultry Division, which can be reached at (334) 240-6584.


Additional information on biosecurity for can be found at www.aphis.usda.gov/animalhealth/defendtheflock.


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Additional background — Avian influenza, or AI, is caused by an influenza type A virus that can infect poultry, including chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, domestic ducks, geese and guinea fowl. It is carried by free-flying waterfowl such as ducks, geese and shorebirds. AI viruses are classified by a combination of two groups of proteins: hemagglutinin or “H” proteins, of which there are 16 (H1–H16), and neuraminidase or “N” proteins, of which there are nine (N1–N9). Many different combinations of “H” and “N” proteins are possible. Each combination is considered a different subtype and can be further broken down into different strains. AI viruses are further classified by their pathogenicity (low or high) — the ability of a particular virus strain to produce disease in domestic poultry.

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