Two separate incidences of High Pathogenic Avian Influenza have popped up in Tennessee, and one low-path in Alabama, in commercial poultry flocks in the last couple of weeks after almost two years of no incidences reported. Dr. Boyd Parr, State Veterinarian for the State of South Carolina says his fear is that owners of poultry flocks large and small have gotten complacent:
“It certainly a wakeup call. It’s certainly human nature for all of us, once we have been successful in avoiding those infections the last two years to say ‘it’s not going to get us’. The two confirmed cases of High Path AI in Tennessee has certainly gotten all of our attention.
What we did in South Carolina is send out a press release reminding people the importance of bio-security and the risk of wild water fowl. Certainly the ME isn’t’ complete on these, but I would compliment my colleagues in Tennessee and Alabama in how they’re dealing with this, certainly, they’re doing an excellent job.
It looks like only one case was laterally spread so that’s a real improvement over what happened in other parts of the country two years ago.”
Early reports, according to Parr, is that two of the three affected flocks were infected by migrating waterfowl, the third case was a lateral contamination:
“We’re concerned that it got in, and best guess at this point is that they all got primary infections from migrating water fowl. That’s certainly a wakeup call. And our message in the press release, in nicer language was basically…’you know all that stuff that you said you were going to do, and you did? You need to still be doing it’. And all evident I have in South Carolina is that our commercial producers are very dialed in and they are paying attention and we’re trying to assist them in that.”
What may be a little different about this small outbreak is that backyard flocks are also being affected:
“This is not a change either, this is what we’ve been preaching, but particularly in our backyard flocks, because the particular strain two years ago, for whatever reason, did not affect the backyard flocks much. But, we knew that was unique to the strain and how it was spread there. This one is not excluding them. The new thing here is that there was nothing in the boiler production chain before and this is boiler/breeders, so it’s moved closer to our big industries. And there has also been low path’s in backyard flocks and commercial flocks, which fits the normal pattern.”
One good thing about this particular outbreak is that it’s happened at the tail end of the cold weather season, with only a few days, possibly weeks left of cool weather, not months:
“Indications are, particularly in our area, when the first one hit, we were drawing a lot of confidence from that, it was hot, it had been 80 degrees in South Carolina, and then last week hit, and it was 19 at my house, and that wasn’t in our favor. But, the forecast now, talking to the State of Alabama early this morning, it was in the 80’s there yesterday, and it was in the 80’s in South Carolina, and Avian Influenza doesn’t like warm weather, so we’ll have that going for us.”
South Carolina’s State Veterinarian, Dr. Boyd Parr.