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Bird Flu Strikes Toombs County

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed a case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), also known as “bird flu,” in Toombs County.

The illness was discovered after a flock owner, who owns hundreds of exotic birds and feathered fowl, reported the death of several ducks within a small time frame. The owner also shared he had several members of the flock which were sick. Samples were taken from the animals on May 29, which tested positive for the presence of the virus.

According to the USDA APHIS, this avian flu seems to be limited to a single farm and has not been detected in any commercial poultry throughout the state. To protect the area from any further spread, around 350 fowl were euthanized, including several peacocks and other birds.

This outbreak of the sickness is the first recorded incident of bird flu in Georgia this year.

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The state veterinarian’s office began preparing for the possibility of the virus in February, when a highly contagious form of bird flu broke out in three other states. In an attempt to prevent the spread of this influenza in Georgia, the office ordered a halt to all exhibitions, shows, flea market/auction sales, and swaps and meets involving poultry and other feathered fowl to cease. This order remains in effect.

'Poultry is the top sector of our number 1 industry, agriculture, and we are committed to protecting the livelihoods of the many farm families that are dependent on it,' Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black said Thursday. 'In order to successfully do that, it is imperative that we continue our efforts of extensive biosecurity.”

Bird flu does not pose a risk to the food supply, and no affected animals entered the food chain. The risk of human infection with avian influenza is very low. Poultry flock owners are encouraged to closely observe their birds and report a sudden increase in the number of sick birds or bird deaths to the Avian Influenza Hotline at 770-766-6850.

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