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No reports of avian flu in local poultry, but farmers taking precautions

Cage free hens are kept in cages at an egg farm in San Diego County.   REUTERS  Mike Blake

Alabama has not received any definitive test results that show its cases are highly pathogenic, said Amy Belcher, spokeswoman for the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.

"Given the close proximity of the two premises, this is not unexpected", Tennessee state veterinarian Charles Hatcher said in the statement. The USDA on March 5 confirmed that one was the United States' first infection of highly pathogenic flu in commercial poultry in a year.

In 2014 and 2015, a US avian flu outbreak required the slaughter of 50 million chickens (mostly egg-laying hens) and turkeys. USDA poultry technicians collected samples at the TaCo-Bet Trade Day flea market in Scottsboro located in Jackson County, Ala., March 12. The test was conducted at the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa.

"We know migratory birds are carrying this", Auburn University poultry science professor Ken Macklin said of the avian flu on Tuesday. No epidemiological connections have been made between the cases in Tennessee and Alabama, she added.

Poultry at three possible sites in Alabama are being investigated over suspected bird flu concerns. Earlier, the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries called a news conference to discuss what it said were three findings of avian influenza. Ray Hilburn, associate director of the Alabama Poultry and Egg Association, told the news service that infected birds have been culled, but he didn't say how many.

ChickenAccordingly, Vietnam will suspend importing poultries without thermal processing from USA states of Wisconsin and Tennessee, as there are outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza H7 and lowly virulent avian influenza H5N2 in these areas, reported local Tien Phong (Pioneer) newspaper on Monday. "Our staff is committed to staying actively involved in the avian influenza situation until any threats are addressed".

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System has created a website (www.AlabamaAvianInfluenza.com) to assist backyard flock owners with maintaining healthy birds and to provide answers for avian influenza control.

The farm was in a quarantine zone established after authorities this month found the same strain of the disease in a flock of about 73,500 chickens less than 2 miles (3.2 km) away, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture said.