The Journal Gazette
Saturday, May 14, 2022 1:00 am

18 local farms to test for avian flu

Flock of 20 dies; spurs search for disease

JIM CHAPMAN | The Journal Gazette

Birds at 18 commercial farms in Allen County will be tested for avian influenza after almost all the birds in a local hobby flock died, state animal health officials said.

The Indiana State Board of Animal Health confirmed a preliminary diagnosis of avian flu Thursday at a small backyard hobby flock in Allen County.

Nearly all of the birds – all of them chickens – died. One chicken and one duck survived.

Denise Derrer Spears, spokeswoman for the Board of Animal Health, said the flock had less than 20 birds, but she didn't know the exact number or where the flock was located.

The owner called the Board of Animal Health after birds began dying, Spears said.

A preliminary avian flu diagnosis was made at a Purdue University laboratory in West Lafayette. Samples will be sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Laboratory in Iowa for confirmation.

Avian influenza viruses usually do not infect people, but there have been some rare cases of infection in those who came into direct contact with sick birds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The USDA said eggs that are properly prepared and cooked are safe to eat.

Birds at 18 commercial farms within a 6.2-mile surveillance area of the affected flock will be tested for avian flu, Spears said.

“We will also be reaching out to hobby flock owners who are registered with our office,” she said in an email. “This testing is done to ensure Indiana complies with international standards for trade.”

Board of Animal Health staff will be reaching out to residents near the Allen County site to schedule testing. The board has 60 registered hobby flocks in the area.

Hobby poultry owners in Allen County can contact the Board of Animal Health at 317-544-2387 to schedule tests at no charge.

Poultry owners can also call the healthy birds hotline at 866-536-7593 if birds exhibit symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, loss of appetite or energy, lack of egg production, and swelling or discoloration around their heads.

The Allen County case is the 11th avian flu case in the state this year, and the first in the county. Nine cases have involved commercial flocks and two were in hobby flocks.

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