Indianapolis: Animal health officials investigating a bird flu outbreak in southwest Indiana have ordered 156,000 chickens at one of 10 affected commercial poultry farms to be euthanized, raising the total number of birds to be killed above 400,000.
The egg-laying chickens were housed at one of the 10 commercial farms where turkeys had been infected with the H7N8 virus and were at a high risk of contracting it themselves, Indiana State Board of Animal Health spokeswoman Denise Derrer said today.
The H7N8 strain is different than the H5N2 virus that led to the deaths of 48 million birds last summer. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the Indiana outbreak has been a test of whether officials are ready for future bird flu outbreaks and shows the need to stay on guard year-round.
"It is a wake-up call. It was a good opportunity to see if we're responding the way we should and I think we did," he said Tuesday at renewable fuels summit in Iowa. All of the turkey farms where the virus has been found are in Dubois County, a county about 70 miles west of Louisville, Kentucky, that is Indiana's top poultry producer.
The first infection was confirmed last week at a 60,000-turkey farm with connections to major Indiana-based producer Farbest Farms, which has contract growers in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.
But the other nine farms contract with several companies, Derrer said, and officials are investigating whether the virus might have been spread by workers with those companies traveling between farms or whether it was wild birds, wind patterns or other methods.