2020: Bird Flu is Storming Across South Carolina

A deadly and an infectious strain of the bird flu has been discovered in a commercial turkey flock in South Carolina.

This is the first case of a the more grievous strain of the disease in America since 2017 and is a concerning development for an industry that was highly impacted by previous outbreaks.

This case was found at an operation in Chesterfield County, South Carolina. The last case was discovered in a Tennessee chicken flock in 2017.

In 2015, about million poultry were killed at operations mainly concentrated in the Upper Midwest after infections spread across the region.

“Yes, it’s concerning when we see cases, but we are prepared to respond very quickly and that was done in this case,” stated Lyndsay Cole, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

The USDA has been collaborating in recent months with scientists and farmers in North Carolina and South Carolina, where a less severe variant of the bird flu had been discovered.

Low pathogenic strains of the bird flu cause few clinical signs in infected birds. However, two strains of low pathogenic bird flu — the H5 and H7 strains — can transform into more severe variants.

These variants tend to be more fatal to birds and can be easily transmitted to species more susceptible to the outbreak.

“Our scientists at the National Veterinary Services Laboratory had looked at the virus characteristics of the low path virus and they had previously indicated that this was one that was probably likely to mutate so they were watching it very closely,” Cole commented.

A laboratory based in Ames, Iowa, confirmed that the virus which was responsible for the deaths of turkeys was a severe H7N3 strain of avian influenza.

According to a report, the outbreak was discovered on April 6. So far, the virus has killed 1,583 turkeys and the remaining 32,577 birds in the flock were euthanized.

State officials quarantined the farm, then they established movement controls, and implemented enhanced surveillance in the area.

“The flock was quickly depopulated and will not enter the marketplace,” said Joel Brandenberger, president of the National Turkey Federation, an industry trade group. “Thorough disinfecting and cleaning procedures have already been initiated on premises as well as surveillance of commercial flocks in the surrounding area. This occurrence poses no threat to public health. Turkey products remain safe and nutritious.”

Flu cases occur almost annually.

The majority of these cases are not severe, nevertheless, they show that biological threats are real.

A globalized world where unprecedented degrees of movement of people from regions that don’t have the same medical standards as America does present unique challenges for the country.

This illustrates the need for an improved health infrastructure and stronger border controls.

Not taking this into account, will leave America susceptible to future pandemics.