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Agriculture officials: 3 cases of avian influenza suspected in north AL

Updated: Mar. 14, 2017 at 3:13 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Officials with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries are investigating three possible cases of avian influenza in north Alabama.

John McMillan, Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries, says the three cases are in Lauderdale, north Madison, and Jackson Counties. McMillan says the cases, which have been sent off for further testing, are suspected and not confirmed.

McMillan stressed during a Tuesday press conference that the cases are not a food safety issue. The birds involved are waterfowl, primarily consisting of ducks and geese.

"Following the 2015 avian influenza outbreak in the Midwest, planning, preparation, and extensive biosecurity efforts were escalated in Alabama. Industry, growers, state and federal agencies and other stakeholders have worked hard to maintain a level of readiness," said McMillan. "Our staff is committed to staying actively involved in the avian influenza situation until any threats are addressed."

State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier in consultation with McMillan issued a stop movement order for certain poultry in Alabama, to restrict movement of all poultry and equipment especially in and from any infected zones.

"The health of poultry is critically important at this time," said Dr. Frazier. "With three investigations of avian influenza in north Alabama on three separate premises, we feel that the stop movement order is the most effective way to implement biosecurity for all poultry in our state."

Frazier reminds poultry owners to be vigilant about biosecurity. It is the department's responsibility to protect backyard flock, exhibition, show and commercial poultry and stopping the movement of certain poultry is the most effective way to do so.

Officials urge backyard poultry owners to report any indications of sick birds to agriculture officials. They also offer the following recommendations:

Isolating poultry from other animals

  • Wearing clothing designated for use only at the poultry house
  • Minimizing access to people and unsanitized equipment
  • Keeping the area around the poultry buildings clean and uninviting to wild birds and animals
  • Sanitizing the facility between flocks
  • Cleaning equipment entering and leaving the farm
  • Having an all in, all out policy regarding the placement and removal of the poultry
  • Properly disposing of bedding material and mortalities
  • Avoiding contact with migratory waterfowl

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