A chicken breeder in Tennessee has been identified as a carrier of a strain of the bird flu. The farm was contracted to Tyson Foods, Inc., and the company’s 73,500 birds now must be culled to prevent the virus from entering the food system in the country, says Fox News.
The United States Department of Agriculture reported that this was the first confirmed case of H7 avian influenza (HPAI) in the country. It is also the first time it has been present in the state.
Containing the Virus is Critical
Tyson has released a public statement that they are working with a federal and local official to euthanize the birds on the contracted farm. They are also working to ensure that no other farms contracted with the company are contaminated with this rare strain of the bird flu.
HPAI initially broke out in 2014 and 2015, where more than 50 million egg-laying hens were killed. The losses had dramatically increased the country’s egg prices to record highs, and there were trading bans on imports of American poultry; even though there was no infection reported in the broiler industry.
During the outbreaks, it was only egg-laying hens who were affected. The disease afflicted no humans, and the risk to people is relatively small. However, there are residents of China who have died from an outbreak of the H7N9 strain.
The facility initially reported to health officials that their chickens were dying. The USDA confirmed the test results and began to work on containing the virus aggressively. They are locating all flocks within a six-mile radius of the affected farm and checking those birds to ensure that they are negative. No flocks will be transported until they have been confirmed safe.
Birds on the affected property will be euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease to flocks in the area. Also, any birds made from this affected flock will never enter the food system, says Fox 6 News.
How Does the Virus Spread?
The avian flu is mostly a threat to the bird population; and rarely does it affect humans. The virus strains easily travel in wild birds, and those birds do not appear sick. People should avoid contact with any dead or infected poultry because they could contract the virus if they do not wash their hands.
The kind of bird flu found on the Tyson-contracted farm does not pose a grave risk to the food supply, and the human risk is incredibly low.
However, avian influenza epidemics have been a serious issue in other countries, with more than 460 people in China having confirmed infections since October 2016. A man in Canada died from the bird flu in 2014, and in 2015 millions of birds in the United States were euthanized.
Those who contract avian flu will have symptoms like the regular flu, but more severe. These symptoms include fever, cough, sore through, pneumonia, and respiratory illnesses.
It is important to note that there are multiple strains of avian flu; and only those with the H5, H7, and H10 labels have killed humans in the past.