Bird flu outbreak detected at Georgia duck farm; 30,000 birds to be culled

Atlanta, Georgia, USA. – Georgia Department of Agriculture and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service An outbreak of avian influenza was confirmed in the duck farm.

The facility in Sumter County has the state’s first positive case of avian influenza in waterfowl, officials said. Therefore, 30,000 birds will be sacrificed to prevent the spread of the virus.

Avian influenza does not pose a risk to the food supply and affected animals have not entered the food chain.

“In 2023, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) was first confirmed at a commercial duck farm in Georgia,” Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper said.

The owner reported the case on November 18 after the duck showed signs of neurological deterioration and subsequently increased mortality.

“Our team of animal health experts responded immediately and quarantined the affected facility, began reducing the number of birds on site to prevent further spread of disease, and continued to monitor all other flocks within the containment area,” Harper said. “

Samples were collected and analyzed at the University of Georgia Tifton Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. The results were subsequently verified by the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

Officials are also monitoring nearby chicken flocks to ensure the disease does not spread.

The announcement comes after s Similar cases would also be discovered in Alabama, Tennessee and Florida in recent weeks. Authorities determined the source of the infection was wild birds, which spread the disease to the sheep.

Poultry farmers are encouraged to report sudden increases in poultry illness and death to the Avian Influenza Hotline at 770-766-6850.

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According to a report published by MedlinePlus, there are only a few differences between the proteins of today’s avian influenza viruses and the virus that caused the Spanish flu pandemic in the early 20th century.

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“It’s important to understand the mechanisms of adaptation and identify key mutations so that we can be better prepared,” said author Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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To support his view, Kawaoka relied on the fact that avian influenza viruses in nature only need a few changes to adapt to humans and cause a pandemic.

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Researchers say that if today’s bird flu virus became as deadly and contagious as the 1918 virus, it would involve only a small number of mutations.

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“Our findings demonstrate the value of continued surveillance of avian influenza viruses and reinforce the need for better influenza vaccines and antiviral drugs for this condition,” Kawaoka said.

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