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2 KY poultry sites up, running again after bird flu outbreak

Two Kentucky sites with outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza in February have been cleared by state and federal officials to return to production after negative environmental samples.

Two Kentucky sites with outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza in February have been cleared by state and federal officials to return to production after negative environmental samples.

AP

Kentucky and federal agriculture officials have given an all clear to two sites in western Kentucky identified earlier this year as having outbreaks of bird flu.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) was confirmed at commercial chicken broiler in Fulton County Feb. 14. At that time, a second outbreak was suspected at a commercial turkey operation in Webster County, and confirmed shortly thereafter.

Since the detections, the sites have been under quarantine and a number of birds were killed to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

According to a Tuesday release from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service National Veterinary Laboratory confirmed negative test results from environmental samples taken from the sites, indicating no avian influenza. The KDA did not give a date for the negative test results.

“We are pleased both sites were given the clean bill of health,” the state’s agriculture commissioner, Dr. Ryan Quarles, said in part. “From the first day we identified avian influenza in the commonwealth, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture has worked closely with animal health officials at the federal and state levels to contain these incidents of avian influenza.”

Kentucky’s confirmed cases are part of a wider outbreak of bird flu among commercial producers and backyard tenders in the US in recent months.

According to a HPAI dashboard from the USDA, 32 states have had at least one detection of an infected flock, affecting 36.66 million birds. The most recent detection was reported April 30.

The federal agency reports Iowa has the most birds affected by outbreak, at more than 13 million, while Minnesota leads in most flocks affected, at 56. That count includes commercial and backyard flocks.

According to USDA data, the two detections in Kentucky affected 284,700 birds.

In some places, including Illinois, officials have cautioned the public to remove outdoor bird feeders and clean bird baths to prevent the spread among wild birds.

While deadly to birds, HPAI poses little risk to humans, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The KDA previously said there is no risk to the food supply, as infected birds are not processed into the food system. The outbreak is pushing poultry prices higher, however, NPR recently reported.

The Tuesday release said the birds at the two Kentucky sites were “depopulated” and composted on the grounds while quarantine, surveillance, testing and decontamination proceeded. With the all clear, operations can now resume, including the introduction of new poultry.

Though testing was conducted at other Kentucky premises, no additional detections were confirmed.

“We are encouraged that no additional poultry premises in the commonwealth have been confirmed positive for the virus,” State Veterinarian Dr. Katie Flynn said. “We will remain vigilant and continue to investigate any suspected cases.”

If you have commercial or backyard birds, symptoms of the flu to be on alert for include decreased water and food consumption among your flock, unusually high mortality and respiratory symptoms.

The KDA has a website with information about how to best protect your flock.

To report sick or dead birds, call 1-866-536-7593.

Do you have questions about agriculture in Kentucky? We’d like to hear from you. Fill out the form below or email ask@herald-leader.com.

Jackie Starkey is the service journalism editor for the Lexington Herald-Leader, Center Daily Times and Belleville News-Democrat. She is a graduate of UNC Asheville and previously worked for the Carteret County News-Times in coastal North Carolina. She is based at the Herald-Leader in Lexington.

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