US - Two more outbreaks of H5N2 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) have been confirmed in the US states of Iowa and Nebraska.
The two latest outbreaks bring the total number of detections in the epidemic to 181, since December 2014.
Over 40 million birds have now been affected, with the total standing at 41,034,973.
These outbreaks were officially confirmed by the US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), though unconfirmed reports of new cases originating from the state governments have been circulating for several days.
The latest confirmed reports are:
- Nebraska, Dixon county - 293,200 commercial chickens;
- Iowa, Pocahontas county - 20,700 commercial turkeys.
Meanwhile, an official from Purdue university has said that while it is a disappointment to many animal science students to be unable to show their poultry at fairs due to influenza restrictions, this is not their only learning opportunity and there will still be positive outcomes of their projects.
Aaron Fisher, a Purdue Extension 4-H youth development specialist who works on the animal science projects, said: "The emphasis of the 4-H projects is on young people learning about their animals.
"Showing and selling certainly are valuable experiences, but the greater value of 4-H is the overall learning experience that comes with raising and caring for their animals on a daily basis."
His statement comes on the back of a decision by the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH) on 27 May to prohibit the commingling of birds from different locations, including at shows, exhibitions and public sales. The restriction applies to all county fairs and the Indiana State Fair.
Indiana joined at least 10 other states from Maryland to South Dakota that have taken similar action because of the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza. BOAH said 16 states, primarily in the upper Midwest, have had diagnosed cases resulting in the deaths of more than 40 million birds.
The animal health agency said one "backyard" flock in Indiana was diagnosed with it in early May. The flock, in Whitley county, held 77 birds.
“This was not a decision made lightly,” said Indiana State Veterinarian Bret Marsh.
“The spread of the H5 viruses has been unprecedented, and our goal is to protect the health of small, backyard poultry flocks as much as our commercial industry from this disease.”
Dr Marsh explained that BOAH plans to open a public comment opportunity in June to receive input from poultry owners and others about strategies to reopen public shows and sales.
“We are looking for ways to restore our public bird events in a way that will reduce or eliminate opportunities for disease to spread and threaten backyard flocks statewide."
Mr Fisher said his students often learn how conditions such as diseases affect poultry owners and producers large and small - in this case a prohibition of poultry exhibits at Indiana fairs this year.
"This, too, is a learning experience," he said.
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