Southern Wisconsin bird flu case; found in chicken flock

The bird flu has been confirmed in a commercial chicken operation in Wisconsin, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday.

Samples from the flock were tested at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and confirmed at the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, the agency said in a statement.

State animal health officials have quarantined the property in southern Wisconsin's Jefferson County, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of Milwaukee. All chickens in the flock will be destroyed and will not enter the food system, the USDA said.

Farms that raise turkeys and chickens for consumption have been on high alert and taking steps to increase biosecurity since avian influenza was recently discovered in a handful of states, including Indiana and Iowa. Producers fear a repeat of a widespread bird flu outbreak in 2015 that killed 50 million birds across 15 states and cost the federal government nearly $1 billion.

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Avian influenza is an airborne respiratory virus that spreads easily among chickens through nasal and eye secretions, as well as manure. The virus can spread from flock to flock by wild birds, through contact with infected poultry, by equipment and on the clothing and shoes of caretakers.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the recent bird flu detections do not present an immediate public health concern. No human cases of these avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States.

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