Bird flu reported in West Tennessee; Hardin County Chick Chain Show and Sale postponed
UPDATE, OCT. 5 — Click here for the latest on this situation.
INITIAL STORY, SEPT. 16 — Hardin County’s University of Tennessee Agriculture Extension has postponed its Chick Chain Show and Sale this weekend until further notice.
The postponement of the event at the Hardin County Fairgrounds is due to a strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) that has sickened a poultry flock in West Tennessee, officials said.
To protect the health of other domesticated birds, the State Veterinarian has ordered an immediate halt to poultry shows, exhibitions, and sales statewide.
HPAI is known to be deadly for domesticated fowl. The affected backyard flock in Obion County consists of chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, pheasants and pigeons. On Wednesday, Sept. 13, the flock owner notified the State Veterinarian’s office after a sudden unexplained increase in deaths.
Testing at the C.E. Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory in Nashville and the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa confirmed the presence of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza in samples from that flock.
“With HPAI, it’s critical we move quickly to stop the virus from spreading,” Tennessee State Veterinarian Dr. Samantha Beaty said in news release.
“We appreciate the flock owner for contacting us immediately when unexpected deaths occurred. We have protocols in place for instances like this and we are working closely with our state and federal partners to get this situation under control,” she said.
For now, any events where poultry can co-mingle are prohibited. That includes poultry shows, exhibitions, livestock sales, flea markets and swap meets.
“Issuing an order like this is never an easy decision, especially during fair season,” Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher said. “From backyard flock owners to the large commercial companies – the poultry industry touches a lot of lives in Tennessee. This is an effort to protect all domesticated poultry in our state.”
Owners of backyard and commercial poultry flocks are encouraged to:
•Closely observe domesticated birds and report a sudden increase in the number of sick birds or bird deaths to the Tennessee State Veterinarian’s office at 615-837-5120. Or, you can report to USDA at 866-536-7593.
•Prevent contact with wild birds.
•Practice good biosecurity with your poultry. More information can be found online at http://healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov/.
Hardin County’s UT Extension officials plan to reschedule the Chick Chain Show and Sale after the state declares it is legally safe to resume poultry sales.