State veterinarian, Dr. Tony Frazier, confirms that a flock of chickens at a commercial poultry breeding operation located in Pickens County and a backyard flock located in Madison County have both tested positive for low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI).
During routine screening, a commercial company collected samples from the Pickens County flock and submitted them to the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) State Diagnostic Laboratory located in Auburn, Alabama. These samples, suspected positive for avian influenza, were forwarded to the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa. NVSL confirmed the commercial flock is positive for LPAI. This commercial flock has been placed under quarantine. While this is different from the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus that has been found recently in the United States, control measures are under way as a precautionary measure.
In addition to the suspected case in Pickens County, a backyard flock located in Madison County has also been confirmed positive for low pathogenic H7N9 avian influenza (LPAI) by NVSL. Surveillance zones have been put in place surrounding the locations in both Pickens and Madison counties.
This suspected strain of avian influenza does not pose a risk to the food supply and no affected animals entered the food chain.
On Tuesday, March 14, 2017, Dr. Tony Frazier issued an official Order Prohibiting Poultry Exhibitions and the Assembling of Poultry to Be Sold. The order prohibits all poultry exhibitions, sales at regional and county fairs, festivals, swap meets, live bird markets, flea markets and auctions. The order also prohibits the concentration, collection, or assembly of poultry of all types, including wild waterfowl from one or more premises for purposes of sale. This order remains in effect. Shipments of eggs or baby chicks from National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP)-approved facilities are not affected by this order.
“The health of our poultry is critically important at this time,” said Dr. Frazier. “With confirmed cases of low pathogenic avian influenza in Alabama in both commercial and backyard flocks, the order reducing the assembly and commingling of poultry is the most effective way to practice strict biosecurity measures in our state.”
USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) continues to work closely with the ADAI on a joint incident response. The United States has the strongest avian influenza surveillance program in the world and USDA is working with its partners to actively look for the disease in commercial poultry operations, backyard flocks, livebird markets and in migratory wild waterfowl populations.
“The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries staff is working diligently to defend the health of poultry in our state,” said Commissioner John McMillan. “We are committed to protecting the livelihoods of Alabama farmers.”
Dr. Frazier reminds poultry producers and backyard flock owners to observe their birds closely and to be vigilant about practicing strict biosecurity measures. These include:
- Isolating poultry from other animals;
- Wearing clothing designated for use only at the poultry house;
- Minimizing access to people and unsanitized equipment;
- Keeping the area around the poultry buildings clean and uninviting to wild birds and animals;
- Sanitizing the facility between flocks;
- Cleaning equipment entering and leaving the farm;
- Having an all-in, all-out policy regarding the placement and removal of the poultry;
- Properly disposing of bedding material and mortalities;
- Avoiding contact with migratory waterfowl.
Dr. Frazier reminds all poultry owners and producers to strictly adhere to the biosecurity guidelines mentioned above. During this time, backyard flock owners should refrain from moving birds offsite or introducing new birds. The ADAI Poultry Division is available to answer any questions concerning movement of poultry and should be notified at 334-240-6584 and/or USDA at 1-866-536-7593 if birds show unusual signs of disease (flu-like symptoms) or flocks experience unexplained mortalities.
The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries will maintain updates of suspected cases of avian influenza on its website: www.agi.alabama.gov.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System has created a website to assist backyard flock owners with maintaining healthy birds and to provide answers for avian influenza control. It can be found at www.AlabamaAvianInfluenza.com.