The Tennessee State Veterinarian is reporting a detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in a commercial broiler chicken flock at a farm in Weakley County.
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Following a sudden spike in bird deaths, lab tests confirmed the presence of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza.
HPAI is a highly transmissible disease known to be deadly for domesticated fowl. Fowl can be exposed to HPAI through human interactions and through contact with wild birds.
Since September of 2022, HPAI cases in Tennessee have sickened domesticated chickens, geese, ducks, and turkeys in Bledsoe, Davidson, Obion, Tipton, and Weakley Counties.
HPAI has also been found in wild birds, including ducks, geese, vultures, and eagles in Tennessee.
“Unfortunately, HPAI continues to spread to farms of all sizes,” Tennessee State Veterinarian Dr. Samantha Beaty said.
“There have been four previous detections in Weakley County affecting backyard flocks. It’s apparent this disease remains a threat to the poultry industry. We want bird owners to know that their consistent practice of thorough biosecurity measures is the best way to protect the health of their flocks.
"Introduction of this disease can be from wild birds gathering on your property or you can carry it into your flock if you are not wearing clean shoes and clothing.”
Animal health officials have established a 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) control zone surrounding the affected facility. Within the zone, poultry will be tested and monitored for illness and poultry movement requires permitting until the zone is released. Animal Health staff are contacting poultry owners within the control zone to answer questions and provide information.
Although HPAI does not pose a food safety risk, no infected poultry will be allowed to enter the food supply. Poultry and eggs are safe to eat when handled and cooked properly.
The risk of human infection with avian influenza during poultry outbreaks is very low. In fact, no transmission to humans was reported during the outbreak that affected commercial poultry farms in Tennessee in 2017. ■
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