Tennessee Department of Agriculture Reports Rise in Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Cases in Tennessee – Clarksville Online

Tennessee Department of AgricultureNashville, Tennessee – The Tennessee State Veterinarian reports a third detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the state. The latest incident involves a commercial chicken farm in Bledsoe County.

After a sudden spike in flock deaths, tests at the CE Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory in Nashville and the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, confirmed that the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu was the cause.

“I can’t stress this enough – flock owners need to be aware of the threat and focus on protecting their birds,” said Dr. Samantha Beaty, Tennessee State Veterinarian. “HPAI circulates in our environment and in the wild bird population. We expect more detections as we move through fall and into winter. Strong biosecurity is the best way to protect the health of backyard and commercial herds.”

HPAI is a highly communicable disease known to be fatal to domestic poultry. Poultry can be exposed to HPAI through human interactions and through contact with wild birds. Tennessee’s cases this year have sickened chickens, geese and ducks in Obion County, Tipton County and now Bledsoe County.

Animal health officials have established a 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) control zone around the affected facility. Within the zone, poultry will be tested and monitored for disease and movement of poultry will require a permit until the zone is released. Animal Health staff personally visit poultry owners in the control zone to explain the situation, answer questions and provide information. If you have concerns about your location, please email [email protected] or call 615.837.5120 and staff will help determine if your herd is within the zone.

Although HPAI does not pose a food safety risk, infected poultry must not enter the food supply. Poultry and eggs are safe to eat when handled and cooked properly. The risk of human infection with avian influenza in poultry outbreaks is very low. In fact, no transmission to humans was reported during the outbreak that affected commercial poultry farms in Tennessee in 2017.

Guide for Bird Keepers

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling domesticated birds.
  • Use a pair of shoes that are only worn in stables or poultry houses and clean these shoes after each visit.
  • Regularly disinfect all equipment used in barns or poultry houses.
  • Discourage wild birds from interacting with domesticated birds. Consider hanging cake pans or other noisemakers in trees or, if local regulations permit, occasionally setting off firecrackers or if you see vultures or geese on your property.
  • Watch for signs of illness and report a sudden increase in the number of sick birds or bird deaths to the Tennessee State Veterinary Services at 615.837.5120 and/or USDA at 1.866.536.7593.
  • For more biosecurity tips and HPAI resources, visit www.tn.gov/agriculture/businesses/animals/animal-health/avian-influenza.html.

State officials and partners have extensive experience in effectively containing the virus. Avian influenza control includes coordinating resources and responses, and protocols for quarantine, testing, disposal, cleaning, disinfection, and surveillance.

In Tennessee, more than 600 family farms contribute to the commercial poultry industry. The state is the world leader in primary breeders, and an estimated 45 percent of the chicken consumed worldwide is derived from genetics from Tennessee farms. Broiler chickens are one of the state’s top agricultural commodities, generating $376.2 million in cash revenues in 2021.