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Health officials urge those impacted by avian flu at turkey farm to get mental health help if needed

Avian flu found in birds at Dubois Co. turkey farm, first in U.S. since 2020
Avian flu found in birds at Dubois Co. turkey farm, first in U.S. since 2020
Published: Feb. 11, 2022 at 3:04 PM CST
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DUBOIS CO., Ind. (WFIE) - There is an update on the bird flu that’s forced a Dubois County farm to get rid of nearly 30,000 turkeys.

State officials say the strain of avian flu confirmed at the commercial farm has not spread to neighboring farms.

The Indiana State Board of Animal Health said Thursday that poultry farms with a 10-kilometer control area have completed an initial round of surveillance testing, and all of the tests were negative.

It says testing of the area farms will continue on a weekly basis.

The 18 commercial poultry flocks within the control area are under quarantine until further notice.

The Dubois County Health Department is urging community members who are affected by this animal health emergency to be aware of the possible impact on their mental health and to seek help if needed.

Officials say in general, residents of rural communities have higher rates of depression, substance abuse and suicide. However, farmers face additional mental health challenges due to stressors largely beyond their control, including inclement weather, pests, falling commodity prices, increasing farm debt, and market disruption due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Animal health emergencies like the detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza can further increase stress in farming communities.

If you notice changes in your emotions, attitudes, or cognitive abilities, or if you notice that it has become more difficult for you to care for yourself, your family, or your animals, consider turning to a friend, clergy member or medical provider immediately. If the situation is potentially life-threatening, get immediate emergency assistance by dialing 9-1-1.

If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, have suicidal thoughts or simply need to talk to someone, please contact one of the following organizations:

· Be Well Indiana: Feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or alone? Call this free, confidential resource available 24/7 to anyone in the state of Indiana.

o Call 2-1-1 and enter your ZIP code.

o Follow the prompts and select number 3 for the Be Well Crisis Helpline.

· Farm Aid: This organization connects farmers with helpful services, resources, and opportunities specific to their individual needs. Call the Farmer Hotline for immediate assistance Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM Eastern time.

o Call 1-800-FARM-AID (1-800-327-6243).

· National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, as well as prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones.

o Dial 9-8-8 or call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

The transmission risk of H5N1 avian influenza from birds to people is expected to be low. However, other strains of avian influenza have caused illness in people ranging from mild to severe.

The Dubois County Health Department is working with the Indiana Department of Health and the affected producer to monitor the health of those who were exposed to the infected birds. If you believe that you may be ill due to avian influenza virus infection, please contact your healthcare provider.

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