Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Detected in Tennessee

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State Veterinarian Orders an Immediate Halt to Poultry Shows, Exhibitions and Sales Statewide

NASHVILLE – A strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has sickened a poultry flock in West Tennessee. To protect the health of other domesticated birds, the State Veterinarian is leading the emergency response and ordering 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 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. “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.”

For now, any events where poultry can comingle 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, D.V.M. 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.”

The affected farm is under quarantine and the flock is being depopulated to stop potential spread of the illness. Animal health officials have established a 20 kilometer (12.4 mile) surveillance zone surrounding the site. Within the zone, other flocks will be tested and monitored for illness and poultry movement is restricted. That zone includes a portion of Kentucky. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is partnering with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture to coordinate response.

For more details see the Tennessee Department of Agriculture announcement.


Tom Tabler

Department of Animal Science, Poultry Specialist