Avian flu found at Greene County turkey farm

GREENE CO. — H5N1 avian flu has been found at a third commercial turkey farm in southern Indiana.

Laboratory testing of a commercial flock of turkeys in Greene County has come back as presumptively positive for the virus, the Indiana State Board of Animal Health said Thursday. The samples are being verified at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Iowa.

The previous two cases were in adjacent Dubois County. More than 60,000 birds at the infected farm have been “depopulated.” That brings the total number of infected turkeys to over 100,000.

Denise Spears

Denise Spears, Public Information Director for the Indiana State Board of Animal Health, says the farms are not related

The board was informed by a veterinarian that works with the Greene County farm that geese were in the area. Spears says geese could be the suspect behind this poultry problem. Spears says the H5N1 virus is carried by wild migratory waterfowl so it wouldn’t be uncommon for that to be the source of bringing the virus onto a farm.

Spears says this virus is a challenging issue because the virus simply shouldn’t be in Indiana and has come from somewhere else.

Pending test results should indicate if the virus is the same as that in the previous cases and if the virus is highly pathogenic.

A high mortality rate led to testing at the third farm. Officials have begun euthanizing birds at the farm to prevent the spread of the disease.

A third 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) circle has been established around the farm in Greene County and northern Daviess County. Ten commercial poultry flocks within the new control area are under quarantine and will be tested regularly, the board said.

Animal Health Board staff have reached out to known hobby/backyard poultry owners in the new control area to schedule testing of birds there.

The agency said avian influenza does not present an immediate public health concern, and no human cases of avian influenza viruses have been detected in the U.S.

The turkey infections are the first confirmation of highly pathogenic bird flu in commercial poultry in the U.S. since 2020.

A January 2016 outbreak of bird flu in Dubois County affected 11 poultry farms, resulting in the loss of more than 400,000 birds, the Animal Health Board said.

Indiana ranks third nationally in turkey production.