Avian influenza discovered in California turkeys

Jan 26, 2015

H5N8 strain isn’t known to be threatening to humans

By Diego Flammini, Farms.com

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) section of the United States Department of Agriculture was able to confirm the detection of a very powerful strain of avian influenza (HPAI) in a flock of commercial turkeys in Stanislaus County, California.

The H5N8 strand of the avian flu marks the first finding of HPAI in commercial poultry during the disease incident presently ongoing in the Pacific Flyway (an area stretching along the Pacific Coast from Mexico, north all the way to Alaska and stretching into Siberia).

The flock saw increased mortality and as a result, samples were tested by the California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory System (CAHFS) and the APHIS labs in Ames, Iowa which confirmed the H5N8 discovery.

The facility where the flock is held is currently under quarantine as per APHIS and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).

As part of the ongoing efforts to combat all HPAI findings, the USDA will be in contact with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) to help adhere to trade standards and open communication avenues.

The virus can travel between carriers without them appearing ill. It’s recommended people do not come into contact with sick or dead poultry or wildlife. In the event contact does occur, authorities advise people to wash hands thoroughly and change clothes before coming into contact with other domestic birds or poultry.

As a general food safety rule, cooking eggs and poultry to an internal temperature of 165°F kills viruses and bacteria.

One of the most severe cases of H5N8 occurred in Ireland in 1983. As a result, more than 300,000 turkeys, ducks and chickens were destroyed to help stop the spread of the virus.