Wednesday, July 11, 2007

More Avian Flu Info

From the Virginia Dept of Agriculture and Consumer Services:

July 9, 2007

STATEMENT FROM DR. RICHARD WILKES, STATE VETERINARIAN, VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND CONSUMER SERVICES:

TURKEYS TEST POSITIVE FOR ANTIBODIES FOR MILD FORM OF AVIAN INFLUENZA DURING ROUTINE TESTING

During routine testing of poultry flocks prior to slaughter, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) determined late Friday, July 6, that a turkey flock in Shenandoah County tested suspicious for antibodies of low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI). Testing over the weekend by the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa confirmed the presence of avian influenza (A.I.) antibodies, which indicates possible prior exposure to the A.I. H5 virus. So far USDA testing has not identified the actual virus that caused the birds to produce the antibodies.

NVSL is doing further testing to help identify the virus and hopefully determine its source. VDACS, USDA and the poultry owner are working cooperatively to minimize the possibility that the virus will move beyond this farm.

It is important for Virginia consumers to realize that this is not a public health concern. No affected birds entered or will enter the food chain and poultry products are safe to eat. This is NOT the severe, highly-pathogenic strain that has caused widespread flock destruction and some human cases in countries outside of the United States. Rather, this is almost certainly one of the many milder strains of avian flu that are not uncommon in poultry and that cause only minor sickness or no noticeable symptoms in birds. VDACS will continue to work with USDA and the poultry industry to take all necessary steps to successfully address this situation and minimize its impact on Virginia agriculture.

The affected flock contains 54,000 birds, which will be euthanized as soon as possible as a precaution, and will be composted on-site. While LPAI poses no risk to human health, federal and state policy is to eradicate H5 and H7 subtypes because of their potential to change into more serious types, which have a higher mortality rate among birds.

The turkeys did not show any signs of illness prior to testing, and the presence of A.I. antibodies does not pose a health risk to humans or other birds. The state, along with the poultry industry, is closely monitoring all poultry operations within a six-mile radius of the affected farm.


The poultry industry in Virginia already maintains strict biosecurity in all aspects of production, from hatchery to farm to processing plant. It is now enhancing its biosecurity measures throughout Virginia to avoid transmission of any potential virus to other farms.

Copyright © 2007, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. For Comments or Questions Concerning this Web Site, contact the
VDACS Webmaster.

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