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Cold Weather Slows Avian Flu Cleanup

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Cold Weather Slows Avian Flu Cleanup

Carol Comer
Carol Comer

The avian flu containment area in Dubois county was expanded on Tuesday and more depopulation took place as a precaution to stop the spread of the infection. Indiana State Veterinarian Dr. Bret Marsh announced the addition of an extra 10-kilomenter “surveillance zone” beyond the 10-km control area as a precaution. In addition, there are 155,000 egg-laying chickens that are NOT infected, but are being depopulated, again as a precaution.

Indiana Department of Environmental Management Commissioner Carol Comer said the disposal of the hundreds of thousands of birds is a logistical challenge, “The infected birds are being composted on the farm. They will remain in the ground for at least 30 days, after which they can be used as compost material because the virus is dead.” She told HAT that non-infected birds are being placed in landfills, “Birds that were not infected, but were depopulated as a precaution, can be moved off the farm and be placed in landfills.”

The below freezing temperatures this week have slowed the clean up process. Water is usually used to drown the birds; but with wind chills in the single digits, it has been freezing. USDA officials have turned to carbon dioxide or other methods, but the process has been slow according to BOAH spokesperson Denise Derrer.

Comer said state and federal officials are working almost around the clock to clean up and contain the situation. No new cases of infection have been discovered in the past 24 hours. Currently, depopulation has been completed at six of the 10 turkey flocks. Work continues on the remaining four, as well as the newly added layer facility.

The Indiana State Department of Health is working with the Dubois County Health Department to monitor the health of workers who have had contact with infected birds to ensure they are healthy and verify that the H7N8 virus has not transmitted to people.