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400,000 Birds Killed, What's Next In Avian Flu Outbreak?

Officials in Dubois County say they've made progress by euthanizing all the birds that were affected by the H7N8 virus.

Work still needs to be done, but the rapid response from local, state and federal workers could have prevented the virus from striking additional flocks.

The outbreak began on Friday, when approximately 60,000 turkeys were euthanized because some tested positive for high pathogenic H7N8 at Kalb Turkey Farm.

On Saturday, an additional 180,000 turkeys were euthanized for low pathogenic H7N8.

Approximately 155,000 chickens were euthanized as a precaution because they had been in “dangerous contact” with infected turkeys.

Officials are continuing to test birds on area farms and there have been no additional positive tests since Saturday. As of Wednesday evening, all commercial poultry farms located in the control area and the surveillance zone have completed at least one round of negative tests.

Birds in the control and surveillance zones will continue to undergo testing.

Although the strain in this outbreak is not the same as last year, the USDA has been planning for the possibility of another avian flu outbreak. As a result, they were able to respond very quickly once they were alerted to the problem.

“Our commercial industry has a very strong hold on biosecurity and they’ve been doing a lot recently in preparation efforts from last year’s outbreak of avian influenza,” said Koren Custer, USDA veterinarian.

For the outbreak to be declared over, the 21 day timer can only begin after all the affected birds have been disposed of and the barns they were kept in fully sanitized. If any birds test positive in that time, the timer will have to reset.

“We’re the first ones to have the avian infection in the United States this year, on this round. And really, it’s good in a way because the state, the feds, we’re all here right now," Don Waston, Public Information Officer for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. "We can concentrate in this one area and hopefully clean this up real quick."

Samanth Horton, WNIN, contributed to this story.

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