Just four days after we saw HPAI H5N2 In A Minnesota Turkey Farm, we’ve news overnight of another facility in Asbury, Mo. (very near the intersection of Missouri, Kansas & Oklahoma) hit by avian flu. Confirmatory testing is also underway at another facility in Fortuna, Mo. which is roughly 150 miles to the Northeast.
While the exact strain is not mentioned, from the context of the statement it appears to be one of the recently arrived (and reassorted) HPAI H5 viruses that has now turned up in 8 states.
First, this from the Missouri Department of Agriculture, after which I’ll be back with a bit more.
March 8, 2015
MDA implementing response to contain, eliminate virus following detection of avian influenza in Missouri
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri Department of Agriculture announced today that it is implementing its plan for a coordinated response with the USDA, state health officials and industry partners following confirmation that turkeys at a grower facility in Asbury, near Carthage, had been infected with a strain of avian influenza. Outbreaks of a strain of avian flu have occurred in Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and Idaho and are not considered to be a threat to public health or the food supply. Preliminary tests also came back positive for the virus at another facility in Fortuna in Moniteau County.
MDA is following its strict protocols to contain and eliminate the disease. The facilities were immediately quarantined and the remaining turkeys in the involved flocks will be depopulated and will not enter the food system. Following USDA protocols, surveillance and testing procedures are underway at properties near the affected facilities to ensure the virus has not spread.
As a precaution, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is reaching out to monitor workers who may have been exposed to the virus. MDA has also been working with the USDA, which is sending an incident management team to Missouri to assist MDA in its response.
While lethal to birds, the strain of virus detected is not known to have caused disease in humans and is not expected to pose a risk to public health.
The specimens from Carthage were tested by the state animal health diagnostic lab in Springfield and the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa confirmed the finding. MDA is awaiting confirmation on an additional specimen from Fortuna.
Although currently not considered a human health threat, the CDC remains cautious, and has issued specific guidance documents for dealing with those who may have been exposed (see CDC Interim Guidance For Testing For Novel Flu & CDC Interim Guidance On Antiviral Chemoprophylaxis For Persons With Exposure To Avian Flu).
For now, the primary concern is over the negative impact the arrival and proliferation of these highly pathogenic avian flu viruses will have on North America’s poultry industry.
Since November we’ve seen H5N8 and/or H5N2/H5N1 turn up in six western states as well as in British Columbia – all of which lie either beneath, or adjacent to, the Pacific Flyway. Over the past week we’ve now seen these viruses turn up in two additional states in the Mississippi Americas Flyway, which covers 2/3rds of the United States.
While these flyways are predominately north-south corridors, their overlapping allows for a lateral (east-west) movement of avian viruses as well – often via shared nesting areas and ponds – something we’ve looked at recently in The North Atlantic Flyway Revisited & FAO On The Potential Threat Of HPAI Spread Via Migratory Birds.
The arrival of HPAI to Missouri is particularly troubling as that state, and several adjacent states (most notably Arkansas), are among the biggest producers of poultry in the nation.
Where HPAI H5 turns up next is anyone’s guess, but it has proven its ability to spread rapidly and effectively via migratory birds across the nation and around the globe. Poultry producers in states not yet affected are being advised to take extra biosecurity measures to protect their flocks.
Although the future threat from these viruses is unknown, serious outbreaks of H5N1 in Egypt and the rapid emergence and spread of new HPAI H5 reassortants around the globe over the past year recently prompted the World Health Organization to issue a pointed warning (see WHO: H5 Currently The Most Obvious Avian Flu Threat).