Highly pathogenic H7 avian influenza (HPAI) has been found in a commercial chicken farm in Tennessee. Authorities were alerted on Friday after several chickens died at the farm, which is owned by someone who contracts with Tyson Foods Inc. So far, approximately 73,500 chickens have been affected.
"We're responding aggressively and are working with state and federal officials to contain the virus by euthanizing chickens located on the farm," Tyson said in a statement. "All flocks located within a 6-mile radius of the farm will be tested and will not be transported unless they test negative for the virus."
The USDA believes that this is the first reported case of bird flu in a commercial poultry farm this year, and the first case ever in the state of Tennessee. "Birds on the property will be depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease," they said regarding the outbreak. "Birds from the flock will not enter the food system."
There are several strains of avian flu, and only those labeled H5, H7, and H10 have caused deaths in humans. The last known bird flu outbreak in the United States was in 2015 when over 50 million birds were euthanized in Iowa, but thankfully no people were infected.
Most cases of human bird flu infections are caused due to direct contact with infected birds, but the USDA says that "These virus strains can travel in wild birds without them appearing sick." They also added: "People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds."