Officials say the avian flu that was discovered in turkey farms in Dubois County late last week looks to have eased it’s grip after experiencing increases that resulted in the deaths of nearly 250,000 birds.
Reports say there have been no positive tests for the low-pathogenic or high-pathogenic version of the avian flu since Saturday, and over the course of the last 24 hours, commercial farms have yielded 100 negative tests for avian flu.
The rapid response by local, state, and federal agencies to the avian flu infection continues to bear some relatively good news.
Dubois County Sheriff Donnie Lambert says officials don’t know how long it will last but will stay through the ordeal till the end.
Lampert was accompanied with other officials from state and local agencies addressing the epidemic during a media briefing Monday at Vincennes University Jasper Campus.
These officials are working together at the Center for Technology Innovation and Manufacturing where they have designated an area as an Incident Command Post at VUJC.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is the only federal agency in the county. State agencies assisting in the operations include the Indiana Board of Animal Health, the Department of Agriculture, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Health, Department of Environmental Management, the Department of Correction, as well as the Indiana State Police.
Dubois County Health Department Director Donna Oeding Monday reassured that the risk to the general public is low and that there’s even precautions being taken such as the evaluation of people in contact with or around the issue.
Oeding says this is being carried out by conducting interviews and then monitoring anyone who worked on the farms or with the depopulation process for up to 10 days after their last exposure with any dead birds.
Indiana State Veterinarian, Dr. Bret Marsh, was also on hand yesterday and announced that the combined effort between the different state, county, and federal agencies had led to over 900 homes being contacted within an extended 20-kilometer area around the first infection site. He says the response to this issue is a top priority as they have dealt with in similar cases around the county.
Marsh says that since the initial 10 turkey operations were found to have one of two variants of the virus, over 100 tests have come back negative.
The infection was found on an operation belonging to Steve and Dan Kalb on East Dubois Road Northwest just outside of Dubois. The infected birds were near their time to be processed but according to Marsh, the operators found several birds had died and immediately contacted authorities.
Marsh said the fact that Dubois County has a regional airport has greatly assisted in getting the testing completed. He explained that the USDA has been flying samples out to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa testing facility directly from the Huntingburg Airport.
He says access to the farms is restricted because of the depopulation process and the potential to spread the disease.
Officials such as Indiana Department of Homeland Security Director David Kane reflects that the state recognizes this problem as an economic security issue.
He says the current stage in which they are working right now is a responsive stage and that there will be a recovery stage for not just the farmers but the community of Dubois.
Dubois County produces 1.4 million turkeys per year, an output that leads the state. Nationally, Indiana ranks fourth in turkey production.
In joint efforts to bring relief to the community of Dubois Sheriff Lampert directs a message to the public indicating that “he understands the community is concerned but affirms that the officials who are working hard to fix this issue will keep the public informed and that if there is something we could do as individuals of Dubois is to give moral support to the farmers’ family business through prayer.”
Situation updates and status reports about ongoing avian influenza activities, along with critical disease-related information, will be posted online at: www.in.gov/boah/. Users may subscribe to email updates on a link at that page.