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California urges biosecurity reviews following low-path avian flu discoveries

Two commercial turkey flocks in Stanislaus County, Cal., confirmed to have low-pathogenic H7N3 avian flu.

The California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) is urging commercial poultry producers in California to review their biosecurity practices as a second case of low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) has been detected in Stanislaus County, Cal.

CDFA explained that poultry “flu” season has arrived as natural, asymptomatic carriers of avian influenza — waterfowl — migrate over California. As can occur at this time of year, LPAI was confirmed in a commercial turkey flock in Stanislaus County on Sept. 11, and subsequently, a second commercial turkey flock was found to have the same LPAI strain within the 10 km surveillance zone established around the initial flock.

While the initial flock did not show notable signs of avian influenza, as a part of proactive flock health care, CDFA said the company veterinarian submitted samples to the California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory for disease testing. That lab diagnosed the samples as presumptive positive for LPAI H7, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory confirmed the virus as North American wild bird lineage LPAI H7N3.

CDFA and USDA took action, working closely with poultry producers and veterinarians in the area to test other flocks for disease and limit additional introductions and spread. Under veterinary supervision, depopulation and disposal of infected and exposed poultry on the initial property have been completed.

CDFA said during surveillance of commercial premises within this zone, a second commercial facility with meat turkeys, also in Stanislaus County, was confirmed positive for LPAI H7N3, and partial sequencing of the virus was consistent with the initial case.

Another 10 km surveillance zone has been established around the second property. CDFA said nine commercial premises within the 10 km surveillance zones surrounding both infected premises have tested negative for avian influenza so far.

As a reminder, poultry owners should check to be sure their biosecurity is tight and is being followed every day. Biosecurity tips to prevent contact between domestic poultry and wild avian species can be found at the following CDFA websites: Commercial Poultry Biosecurity Page and Backyard Biosecurity Page.

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