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Indiana Poultry Industry Back in Business

Indiana Poultry Industry Back in Business

By HALEY RYAN

Indiana is considered free of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) as of July 21.? 

This designation, under the World Organization for Animal Health’s listing, restores international trading of Indiana poultry products, according to a press release from the Indiana State Board of Animal Health. 

Denise Derrer Spears, public information director for the board, said the Indiana poultry industry is very large. 

“There's a lot of poultry products and a lot of family farms and a lot of jobs that rely on being able to export a lot of products to other countries.” Derrer Spears said. 

The HPAI-free status, she said, is an important milestone in dealing with the disease event because it reestablishes international trade for Indiana products. 

“Hopefully, will mean more security for our jobs and more support for the industry.” Derrer Spears said. 

The first case of this avian flue in Indiana, and the U.S., this year was confirmed in early February in a Dubois county turkey flock, according to the press release. 

“The disease was found on the commercial duck and turkey farms,” Derrer Spears said, “There were nine of them, and that meant depopulating, all of the birds had to go,” 

Four small/hobby flocks with mixed species have also tested positive to date, according to the press release.? 

Derrer Spears said about 188,000 birds were lost across the state.? 

All facilities and equipment had to undergo major cleaning and disinfection to make sure that organic material was removed and so the facilities could be completely cleaned, Derrer Spears said. 

“When the last one of those was done and we got our 28 day waiting period,” Derrer Spears said, “that was the trigger to get us to free status.” 

The virus, Derrer Spears said, had to be eliminated from every poultry operation in the state. Then, she said, all the quarantine zones and control areas had to be lifted. The premises went through a 28-day waiting period with no new cases. This, she said, was to establish that the disease was not circulating around Indiana’s commercial poultry industry, a status that does not mean “all-clear.” 

“Whether you're a large commercial farm or a backyard hobby flock, it's important to remember that virus is still out there circulating, it's still being diagnosed in wild birds,” Derrer Spears said. 

The board is concerned that, as the fall migration starts, another wave of exposure may occur because the birds will be moving again, Derrer Spears said. 

“It's easy to transmit from farm to farm,” she said, “when they're hanging out on the local farm ponds and creeks and marshy waterways, those type of places.” 

The last commercial case of HPAI Indiana had prior to this year was in 2016.? 

“Other cases have cropped up across the United States, in those in-between years, this year has been exceptionally heavy,” Derrer Spears said. 

Wild migratory waterfowl, such as ducks, geese and swans, are able to get the virus but don’t get sick, she said. They continue to fly from place to place, particularly when migrating, and shed the virus in their droppings. 

“There's really no good way to control this when you think about it in the wild environment like that.” Derrer Spears said. 

Avian influenza doesn’t present a food safety risk, according to the release. Eggs and poultry are safe to eat and officials aren’t aware of any public health danger with the virus. 

Human health agencies will be monitoring workers and those in contact with birds to check for influenza-like illness. 

Hobby poultry owners are encouraged to be aware of avian influenza signs and report illness or death to the USDA’s Healthy Birds Hotline at 866-536-7593. 

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