Bird flu outbreak on Indiana poultry farm results in nearly 30K turkeys being euthanized

DUBOIS COUNTY, Ind. — Nearly 30,000 turkeys have been euthanized on a southern Indiana farm after federal regulators detected a bird flu outbreak among its avian population.

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Federal officials indicated that the outbreak does not present an immediate public health threat, but the agricultural and economic implications could be profound, The Indianapolis Star reported.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the confirmed H5N1 strain of avian flu, identified on a commercial Dubois County farm, is considered a highly infective strain, meaning it is “lethal to all poultry that contracts the disease,” the newspaper reported.

The Indiana State Board of Animal Health confirmed the findings in a news release.

The farm, which has not been identified publicly, was placed under quarantine after 100 turkeys died and the USDA confirmed the outbreak, The Hill reported.

The animal health board confirmed Thursday that no other farms have reported a case of the bird flu, but the quarantine applies to nearby farms in order to control the spread of the virus.

Indiana, which produces the third-largest turkey population nationwide, experienced previous outbreaks of a separate bird flu strain in both 2015 and 2016, with the former resulting in the deaths of 50 million birds at a cost of roughly $3 billion, the IndyStar reported.

Board spokeswoman Denise Derrer-Spears told The Hill she did not believe the outbreak would cause any devastating impact, but she cautioned against adopting the phrase “under control.”

“It’s a disease that is carried by wild migratory waterfowl. ...Do we have control of them? No. So using (the term) ‘under control’ is kind of hard to do,” she said, adding, “As far as what’s going on at that site, we feel like we’re under control but just in general, it’s day to day.”

Indeed, the USDA confirmed in January that the bird flu was present in wild birds in several states along the Atlantic Flyway, a major path for migratory birds in North America.

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Avian influenza type A typically spreads among birds and poultry and does not transmit to humans in most cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.