High-path bird flu confirmed in South Carolina

The Department of Agriculture has confirmed the detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza for the first time since 2017. The H7N3 strain of the disease was detected in a South Carolina commercial turkey flock.

The disease destroyed commercial poultry operations across the country in 2015, ultimately resulting in the death of more than 48 million birds.

According to USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, “it appears this HPAI strain mutated from a low pathogenic strain that has been found in poultry in that area recently.” State officials quarantined the area, and birds on the property were depopulated and will not enter the food system, APHIS said.

“As part of existing avian influenza response plans, federal and state partners are working jointly on additional surveillance and testing in the nearby area,” APHIS said in a notice. “The United States has the strongest AI surveillance program in the world, and USDA is working with its partners to actively look for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets and in migratory wild bird populations. USDA will report this finding to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as well as international trading partners.”

No human cases of the strain have been detected, and APHIS said “there is no immediate public health concern.”

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