What's the latest on the low pathogenic avian influenza response?

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

board of animal health

Animal Bytes

November 2018

Update on Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza response

Minnesota Poultry Testing Laboratory

Two flocks control marketed

Some of the earliest detected farms during this fall's H5N2 low pathogenic avian influenza outbreak controlled marketed their healthy and recovered birds. This is part of the planned response to the current outbreak. The farms both tested negative for influenza virus within seven days of being sent to market. The two farms are Stearns County 01 and Stearns County 02.

Six farms remain quarantined and under disease surveillance as their flocks recover from the H5N2 virus. They are: Stearns County 03, Stearns County 04, Kandiyohi County 01, Kandiyohi County 02, Kandiyohi County 03 and Kandiyohi County 04. The plan for these flocks is to continue monitoring and testing until the flocks test negative for the influenza virus and can be control marketed.

The Board has a webpage dedicated to updates on this outbreak, which you can visit by clicking this link.

More top stories...


USDA to phase out free metal NUES tags for livestock

The USDA recently announced plans to stop the availability of free National Uniform Eartagging System (NUES) metal ear tags for cattle and other livestock sometime in 2019. This includes silver metal tags (used by livestock owners and accredited veterinarians) as well as orange metals tags (used by accredited veterinarians for Brucellosis vaccination). This will impact producers and veterinarians that have relied on these free ear tags being available from the Board office. This step will be the first towards implementing 840-prefix radio frequency identification (RFID) tags nationwide as official identification for cattle and bison. The Board is awaiting details from USDA on when this transition will begin and whether funding will be available to support the transition to RFID tags.

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service seeks public comment on flat rate payments

The USDA’s Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is proposing updates to its virus elimination flat rate payments for table egg laying bird barns and table egg storage and processing facilities affected by highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) or H5 and H7 subtypes of low pathogenic avian influenza (H5/H7 LPAI).

When a poultry facility becomes infected with HPAI or H5/H7 LPAI, virus elimination is a crucial step in the recovery process. APHIS can provide compensation for virus elimination activities conducted by the owner/producer, but must ensure that these activities are both time- and cost-effective.

Flat rates cover labor, equipment and supplies to clean and disinfect equipment, materials and the interior of barns and facilities. Because dry cleaning followed by heating, is in many cases the most cost- and time-effective virus elimination method, these activities are used in the calculations.

APHIS has already developed a separate flat rate based on a square-foot basis for floor-raised poultry and is working on a separate flat rate for breeder birds to replace the current per-bird flat rate. The new rates would make payments for virus elimination activities more equitable across facilities.

APHIS invites the public to review and comment on the avian influenza virus elimination flat rate for table egg laying bird barns and table egg storage and processing facilities document. Comments accepted until December 3, 2018 at VS.STAS.Feedback@aphis.usda.gov. After the comment period ends, APHIS will review and consider all comments and issue a final document based on feedback received.  View the document here.

African swine fever update

Additional african swine fever positive farms were discovered in southern China. The report of infected farms in Yunnan Province suggests a substantial spread of the disease within China, and an increased risk for neighboring countries, particularly Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos.

Tularemia has been identified in six Minnesota cats in 2018

The Board of Animal Health issued a veterinary alert to Minnesota veterinarians in August, when Minnesota’s fourth case of tularemia was reported in a domestic cat. Since then, two more cats have been diagnosed with the disease and one confirmed human case has been reported to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) year-to-date. In 2017, 11 animal (7 cats and 4 rabbits) and 6 human cases were reported.

These additional tularemia cases serve as a reminder to veterinarians that cats with access to the outdoors, particularly those that hunt small mammals, including rabbits, are at a higher risk for contracting this disease. Tularemia is also a zoonotic disease and can be spread to people through a bite  or scratch from an infected animal or from handling contaminated objects or infected animals. To report suspect or confirmed cases, or if you have questions regarding this disease, please contact the Minnesota Department of Health at 651-201-5414 or 877-676-5414.

On September 18, 2018 tularemia was confirmed in a 12-year-old neutered male, indoor/outdoor cat in Scott County. On September 12 the cat’s owner noticed that he lacked energy and was not eating normally. The cat was examined by a veterinarian on September 17 who noted a high fever, an ulcer in the cat’s mouth and enlarged lymph nodes under the cat’s jaw. The owner reported that the cat had an affinity for hunting small animals, primarily rabbits.

On September 18, the owner elected humane euthanasia and necropsy, performed at the Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (MVDL), those results supported a suspected case of tularemia. A sample from the spleen was cultured, and Francisella tularensis was confirmed on September 20 by the Minnesota Department of Health Public Health Laboratory (MDH-PHL). The Minnesota Department of Health determined that the risk of human exposure to persons in the home, at the clinic and at the laboratory was low and made no treatment recommendations.

Separately, on October 8, 2018 tularemia was confirmed in a 1-year-old, indoor/outdoor female cat who enjoyed hunting mice, birds and rabbits. The cat was first noted to be ill on October 5 when she presented to a veterinarian with a high fever and swollen lymph nodes. She was hospitalized from October 6 to October 8 during which her condition worsened and she developed oral ulcers. She was euthanized on September 8. Necropsy and tissue cultures performed by the MVDL, supported tularemia and were confirmed as Francisella tularensis at the MDH-PHL. The Minnesota Department of Health determined that the risk of human exposure to persons in the home, at the clinic and at the laboratory was low and made no treatment recommendations.

For more information regarding this disease please refer to the Minnesota Department of Health’s website or the Board’s latest reportable disease of the month bulletin.

CDC says tickborne diseases on the rise

New data from the CDC shows tickborne diseases are again on the rise. In 2017, state and local health departments reported a record number of cases of tickborne disease to CDC (59,349 cases) up from 48,610 in 2016. Reported cases of Lyme disease, anaplasmosis/ehrlichiosis, spotted fever rickettsiosis (including Rocky Mountain spotted fever), babesiosis, tularemia, and Powassan virus disease all increased from 2016 to 2017.

While the reason for this increase is unclear, a number of factors can affect tick numbers each year, including temperature, rainfall, humidity, and host populations such as mice and other animals. Tick densities in any year will vary from region to region, state to state, and even county to county. Numbers of reported tickborne disease cases are also affected by healthcare provider awareness, testing, and reporting practices. During any given year, people may or may not notice changes in tick populations depending on the amount of time they or their pets spend outdoors.