A Stanislaus County quail and duck farm has been placed under quarantine as the bird flu was detected at the facility earlier this month, raising concern on a local and national level.
The flu, or low pathogenic avian influenza, has resulted in veterinarians humanely euthanizing the birds at the Stanislaus County ranch to stop the spreading of the disease. The influenza was detected on April 18 from tests conducted by the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System and confirmed by the United States Department of Agriculture National Veterinary Services Laboratory. Since the diagnosis, the California Department of Food and Agriculture has been conducting an epidemiological study in an attempt to trace from where the virus may have come.
“At this time, there are no leads on where the influenza could have come from,” said Steve Lyle, director of public affairs for the CDFA. “Our goal is to try to limit this incident to the one property. Our best case scenario is to do that.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, low pathogenic virus outbreaks have been sporadic since the mid 1990s and while the low pathogenic virus is not as severe or contagious as a high pathogenic avian influenza, the virus does have the potential to mutate making the presence a “significant problem” according to Lyle. The avian influenza can spread for multiple reasons, including a wild bird getting into a producer’s facility, so while producers are mandated to enforce bio-security measures, such as practicing hand sanitization, walking on footpaths throughout the facility, and wearing hairnets, these standard practices cannot always prevent the spreading of the disease through a flock.
“Any type of animal disease outbreak that would cut off trade or cause animals to be put down is going to cause an impact, especially for that producer. It’s going to impact their bottom line and their ability to produce in an already difficult economy,” said Milton O’Haire, agricultural commissioner and sealer of weights and measures for Stanislaus County.
In response to the detection in the Stanislaus County, several countries have stopped imports of poultry meat from California and the USDA has taken steps to not certify exports to certain countries.