Market News & Headlines >> Bird Flu at California Turkey Ranch

A California turkey farm has been quarantined after confirmation of the first case of an outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza strain in the Pacific Flyway and in a commercial poultry flock.

In the latest outbreak, Foster Farms, the largest poultry producer on the West Coast, said in a statement on Saturday that it had informed USDA after detecting the H5N8 strain on a single turkey ranch in Stanislaus County following routine testing. State and government labs confirmed the findings from samples submitted by the poultry producer, which had experienced a spike in bird deaths, according to USDA.

The news comes just weeks after China and several other countries banned U.S. poultry after an outbreak of another strain of bird flu in the Pacific Northwest.

USDA policy requires that the ranch be quarantined. The agency will humanely kill or destroy the birds to prevent the spread of the disease to commercial and migratory bird flocks. The Pacific Flyway is a major north-south flyway for migratory birds in America, extending from Alaska to Patagonia in Argentina.

No poultry products in the marketplace are impacted. Birds from the involved flock will not enter the food chain, USDA said. While the disease presents a risk to avian species, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) stressed that there is no immediate public health concern as the detected strain is not known to harm humans. “No human cases of these avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States, Canada, or internationally, and there continues to be no public health concern,” APHIS said in a press release on Saturday.

Federal and State partners are working jointly on additional surveillance and testing in the nearby area, following existing avian influenza response plans, APHIS said.  These plans also will include preventing the movement of risky animals or products out of the immediate area to prevent further disease spread.