Bird flu discovered at Dubois Co. turkey farm

Bird flu discovered at Dubois Co. turkey farm
Crews on the scene of a Dubois County property
Crews on the scene of a Dubois County property

INDIANAPOLIS (WFIE) - Federal officials say a bird flu virus that is different from the one that ravaged turkey and chicken farms last summer has been found in Indiana.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Friday the H7N8 flu strain had been confirmed at a commercial turkey farm in Dubois County.

According to Kenneth Eck from the Purdue Extension Office, the farm is located on East Dubois Road. It belongs to a man named Steve Kalb. Eck says the farm, which is a contracted with Farbest Farms, is a big operation in Dubois County.

The strain is highly contagious for birds, not humans. The Centers for Disease Control considers the risk of illness to humans to be very low.

A company veterinarian delivered samples from the flock to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Veterinary Services Laboratory for testing, after several hundred birds died.

"This finding of highly pathogenic H7N8 is unique to Indiana and the nation," said Indiana State Veterinarian Bret D. Marsh, DVM. "This strain is unrelated to those identified in the Upper Midwest in 2015, nor is it related to the HPAI case identified in a Northeastern Indiana backyard poultry flock that was affected last May."

Last year's H5N2 virus outbreak began spreading widely in the spring, not winter, and led to the deaths of 48 million birds.

Indiana Board of Animal Health spokeswoman Denise Derrer says the farm has about 60,000 turkeys and the flock is being euthanized to prevent the disease from spreading.

She said a quarantine is in place for commercial poultry farms and backyard flocks within a nearly 6-mile radius.

Indiana's poultry industry ranks fourth nationally in turkey production, first in duck production, third in eggs, and is a significant producer of broiler chickens. The poultry industry employs more than 14,000 Hoosiers and is valued at $2.5 billion.

State health officials say this is not a food safety risk. Poultry and eggs are safe to eat.

Copyright 2016 WFIE. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.