APHIS issued a news release confirming the presence of highly pathogenic (HPAI) H5N8 avian influenza in a commercial turkey flock in Stanislaus County, in the Central Valley region of California. The disease was identified after birds in the flock began to die at an abnormally high rate.
“This is the first finding of HPAI in commercial poultry during the ongoing disease incident in the Pacific Flyway,” APHIS officials said. “No human cases of these avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States, Canada, or internationally, and there continues to be no public health concern.”
Both the California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory System (CAHFS) and the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, confirmed the H5N8 finding after testing samples from the affected flock.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has quarantined the facility. Together, CDFA and APHIS “have initiated an incident command response,” officials said.
“APHIS will assist CDFA in depopulating the remaining birds on the property to prevent the spread of the disease,” they added. “Birds from the involved flock will not enter the food system.”
Officials said both federal and state agency personnel are conducting additional surveillance and testing in the area surrounding the affected facility. They indicated that a quarantine will soon be issued to restrict the movement of risky animals or products out of the immediate area to prevent further disease spread.
In addition, officials urged people to avoid contact with sick or dead poultry or wildlife, as avian influenza virus strains can travel in wild birds without them appearing sick.
“All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, should continue to practice good biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and to report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to state and federal officials,” they said.
USDA and its state and local partners are actively looking for avian influenza in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets, and migratory wild bird populations, APHIS officials said.
“USDA will be notifying the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) of this detection as part of USDA’s ongoing reporting of all HPAI findings,” they added. “USDA also continues to communicate with trading partners to encourage adherence to OIE standards and minimize trade impacts.”