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KY avian influenza sites given ‘all clear’; poultry owners large and small urged to remain vigilant

Federal and state authorities have released two Western Kentucky poultry sites from quarantine restrictions after tests reveal both premises are now clear of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus. Both sites had been under quarantine restrictions since February.

Kentucky State Veterinarian Dr. Katie Flynn said the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) National Veterinary Services Laboratory confirmed the environmental samples for both premises were negative indicating no avian influenza virus was detected on the commercial broiler chicken operation in Fulton County and the commercial turkey operation in Webster County.

“We are pleased both sites were given the clean bill of health,” Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles said. “From the first day we identified avian influenza in the commonwealth, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture has worked closely with animal health officials at the federal and state levels to contain these incidents of avian influenza. Dr. Flynn and her team have a goal of protecting the health of livestock and poultry in the commonwealth. And that’s exactly what they did for our producers.”

(Photo by Steve Patton, UK Agricultural Communications Specialist)

HPAI is known to be deadly for domesticated chickens and turkeys. In early February, the commercial operations in Fulton and Webster counties, separately, alerted the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) of an increase in poultry deaths. Testing at the Breathitt Veterinary Center and the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) confirmed the presence of HPAI in samples from both sites.

State officials immediately quarantined the affected premises. Federal and state partners worked jointly on additional surveillance and testing of commercial and backyard poultry flocks in the area and established an incident command center in Fulton County to gather information. The KDA also established a 10 kilometer surveillance zone around the detected properties to determine if there were any further detections.

In order to contain the disease, both sites were depopulated and affected birds were composted on site to decrease the potential for spread of the disease. Once composting and decontamination procedure progressed, testing of the premises continued to determine the areas were clear of HPAI.

Both premises are now eligible to repopulate their poultry and begin operations again.

State officials continue to monitor for HPAI across the state. Since first detected in Kentucky, several sites have been tested for HPAI, but the Fulton County and Webster County premises were the only ones positive for the disease. All other tests produced negative results.

“We are encouraged that no additional poultry premises in the commonwealth have been confirmed positive for the virus.” Dr. Flynn said. “We will remain vigilant and continue to investigate any suspected cases.

Dr. Flynn encourages anyone involved with poultry production from a small backyard to a large commercial operation to continue observation of their flocks and to review their biosecurity activities to ensure the health of their birds. APHIS has materials about biosecurity, including videos, checklists, and a toolkit available as part of its Defend The Flock program.

In addition to practicing good biosecurity, all bird owners should prevent contact between their birds and wild birds. Kentucky bird owners should report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to state and federal officials, through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.

Kentucky Department of Agriculture

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