NCC Statement on Confirmation of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza at Tennessee Broiler-Breeder Farm

March 5, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 5, 2017 – The National Chicken Council (NCC) today was notified by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) that the agency has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H7 avian influenza (HPAI) in a commercial broiler breeder flock in Lincoln County, Tennessee, along the Mississippi flyway.  Tests are underway to identify the neuraminidase, or “N” number of the virus.

(A broiler breeder farm contains roosters and hens – known as “parent stock” – which produce fertilized eggs, which hatch into the broiler chickens we raise for meat.)

“The virus was detected on a single farm after experiencing increased mortality, and depopulation of the birds on the farm is complete,” said Ashley Peterson, Ph.D., NCC senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs.  “All flocks located within a six-mile radius of the farm will be tested and will not be transported unless they test negative for the virus.”

Avian flu is not a foodborne illness, which means you can’t contract it from eating poultry that has been cooked properly. And in the event a flock does test positive, as in this case, it will not enter the food chain.  Additionally, the risk of humans contracting avian flu is very low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“The U.S. has the most robust monitoring and surveillance programs in the world – and detailed plans are in place and being executed at the federal and state level to control spreading among flocks and eliminate the virus completely, “Peterson added.  “All U.S. flocks are tested year-round for avian influenza, and if a single bird in a flock were to test positive for avian flu, then none of those birds would be allowed to enter the food supply.

“NCC is encouraging our members to maintain heightened biosecurity protocols, as we continue to closely monitor this situation,” Peterson concluded.  “We will also be working with our government and trading partners to minimize any potential disruptions to our export markets.”  

Additional information is available from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services and from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture

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