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State officials: Bird flu found at northwest Indiana duck farm

Duck farm

(Adobe Stock)

Avian influenza has been detected in a northern Indiana duck farm, state officials say, marking the disease’s spread to a third poultry species.

The Indiana State Board of Animal Health said Thursday night that laboratory testing of a commercial duck flock in Elkhart County has come back as presumptively positive for the virus. The flock has an estimated 4,000 birds.

It says the samples are being verified at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Iowa.

Bird flu was detected earlier this year at six turkey farms in southern Indiana’s Dubois and Greene counties.

When cases of bird flu are found on poultry farms officials act quickly to slaughter all the birds in that flock even when it numbers in the millions, but animal welfare groups say their methods are inhumane.

USDA officials defend their methods as the most humane options available under the circumstances. The goal is to kill all of the birds within 24 hours to limit the spread of avian influenza and prevent them from suffering with the disease.

The methods used to do that include spraying birds with firefighting foam to cut off their air supply, piping carbon dioxide into their barns or in some cases shutting down a barn's ventilation system and allowing the temperature to raise high enough to kill the birds inside.

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