The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed Jan. 15 the presence of H7N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in a commercial turkey flock in Dubois County, Ind.
In a media call Friday afternoon, Dr. T.J. Meyers, associate deputy administrator of APHIS Veterinary Services, said the affected premises had approximately 60,000-plus birds, including an associated site under the same management. The index case is in a poultry-dense area of southern Indiana.
APHIS emphasized that this is a different strain of HPAI from the strains that caused the devastating 2015 outbreak. So far, APHIS has only limited strain data from the diagnostic testing, which does indicate that the H7N8 is of North American lineage, but a complete genomic analysis won't be available until next week, Meyers said.
There are no known cases of H7N8 infections in people, but as a reminder, APHIS said properly handling and cooking poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165°F kills bacteria and viruses, including HPAI.
Samples from the turkey flock, which experienced increased mortality, were tested at the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University, which is a part of USDA’s National Animal Health Laboratory Network, and results were confirmed by USDA.
APHIS is working closely with the Indiana State Board of Animal Health on a joint incident response. State officials quarantined the affected premises, and depopulation of birds on the premises has begun already. Depopulation prevents the spread of the disease. Birds from the flock will not enter the food system.
As part of existing avian influenza response plans, federal and state partners are working jointly on additional surveillance and testing in the nearby area.
Since the previous HPAI detections in 2015, APHIS noted that it and its state and industry partners have learned "valuable lessons" to help implement stronger preparedness and response capabilities. In September, APHIS published the "HPAI Fall Preparedness & Response Plan" that captures the results of this planning effort, organizing information on preparatory activities, policy decisions and updated strategy documents.