Bird flu reaches another Tennessee chicken farm linked to Tyson

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A second case of bird flu in Tennessee has been reported at a chicken farm, heightening the threat of the disease in the Southeast, the country’s biggest poultry region.

Highly-pathogenic avian influenza, which can be fatal to domesticated poultry, was found at a commercial chicken-breeder farm in Lincoln County, Tenn., the state’s agriculture department said Thursday in a statement. The case comes after a chicken farm that was less than 2 miles away had reported the deadly virus in early March, the first incident in the U.S. in more than a year. Both farms were contracted with Tyson Foods, according to spokesman Worth Sparkman.

“Given the close proximity of the two premises, this is not unexpected,” Tennessee state veterinarian Charles Hatcher said in the statement. “We will continue to execute our plan, working quickly to prevent the virus from spreading further.”

While countries across Europe and Asia are also battling with bird flu outbreaks, Brazil, the world’s leading chicken exporter, has remained free of the disease. BRF SA, the country’s largest chicken exporting company, had the biggest intraday gain in eight days after the news of the second Tennessee case.

The affected flock had 55,000 chickens, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture statement. The farm has been quarantined, and the birds will be destroyed to prevent the disease’s spread. The virus reported at both farms was an H7N9 strain from North American wild-bird lineage.

Since the initial Tennessee report, South Korea banned imports of U.S. poultry and some other importing nations restricted product from the state or area affected.

The U.S. southeast was largely spared during the last major American outbreak, which affected turkey and egg farms in the Midwest and led to the death of more than 48 million birds through mid-2015, either from infection or culling.

Lincoln County is near Tennessee’s border with Alabama, one of the largest U.S. chicken-producing states. Earlier this week, Alabama said it was investigating bird flu cases at three premises in the northern part of the state. One was a commercial chicken-breeding facility, while the others were at a backyard poultry flock and flea market.

A case of low-pathogenic avian influenza, which typically causes only minor symptoms in poultry, was also found last week in a commercial chicken flock in Giles County, Tenn.

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