Avian flu returns to commercial flocks

Avian flu returns to commercial flocks
Oct 11, 2023

Flocks in South Dakota and Utah are infected with the illness

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Avian flu has returned to commercial poultry flocks in at least two U.S. states.

Data from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service shows turkey flocks in South Dakota and Utah were confirmed to have avian flu on Oct. 4 and Oct. 6, respectively.

The flock in South Dakota is in Jerauld County.

The outbreak, discovered on Oct. 4, affects more than 47,000 birds. And it’s the first outbreak in the state since April.

State officials expect more cases to pop up.

“I don’t doubt that we will have more cases,” State Veterinarian Beth Thompson said, The Associated Press reported. “I would be very pleasantly surprised if we’re done because migration is just starting.”

Two days later is when the turkey flock in Utah received its avian flu confirmation.

The affected farm is in Sanpete County.

As a result of the discovery, the more than 140,000 affected birds have been depopulated.

“It is unfortunate to see new cases of avian flu in Utah again this year and affecting Utah’s turkey farmers,” Daniel Christensen, Utah’s state veterinarian, said in a statement. “Our department is working hard to help this farm handle this situation as quickly and safely as possible.”

This new outbreak is Utah’s first since November 2022.

Producers may want to be on the lookout for potential avian flu infection symptoms.

Symptoms, according to the USDA, include:

  • Sudden death without clinical signs;
  • Lack of energy and appetite;
  • Decreased egg production or soft-shelled or misshapen eggs;
  • Swelling of head, comb, eyelid, wattles, and hocks;
  • Purple discoloration of wattles, comb, and legs;
  • Nasal discharge, coughing, and sneezing;
  • Incoordination; or
  • Diarrhea.

The USDA also has its Defend the Flock program for people who handle or work with poultry.

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