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Public safety professionals in Dubois County are being praised for their behind-the-scenes role in this month’s ongoing response to the avian flu recently discovered among 10 commercial turkey flocks in the northeastern section of the county.

In a press release Dr. Brett Marsh of the Indiana State Board of Animal Health says they haven’t been out front due to the type of response, but their participation and expertise has been paramount.

Local firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians and health officials have worked long hours, endured severe cold and withstood stressful conditions during the process, which began when the virus was detected Jan. 15 on a farm just outside of Dubois. The process of depopulating some approximately 400,000 is complete, though composting of the fowl and cleanup efforts is expected to last till March.

A total of 518 professionals from local, state and federal agencies and private organizations have joined forces to combat the avian flu on the front lines.

Marsh’s office notes assistance from a variety of groups.

The Dubois County Health Department has assisted by interviewing and monitoring the responders, farm personnel and residents who have been involved in the incident.

The Dubois County Emergency Management Agency has continuously provided personnel and resources for the response efforts and has been assisted by emergency management staff from the Spencer, Pike, Crawford, Daviess, Gibson, Knox, Martin, Perry, Posey, Vanderburgh and Warrick counties Emergency Management Agencies .

After last night’s Dubois County County Council meeting, Dubois County Emergency Management Director Tammy Humbert echoed the state’s praises of the efforts of county officials and the response of emergency teams.

Last night the Dubois County Council approved a fund of 100,000 dollars to help cover expenses  incurred by the county including cost of firefighter equipment.

Other entities who have taking part in response efforts include Memorial Hospital in Jasper who has provided equipment and nursing staff to assist in specimen collection.

The City of Jasper has provided equipment, and the Jasper Street Department has helped plow snow from parking lots at the Vincennes University Jasper Campus to provide parking for incident personnel.

The Dubois County Highway Department has salted roadways and laid rock to make incident areas more accessible for responders. The Dubois County Commissioners and all members of the Dubois County Council have regularly visited the command post and offered county assistance.

Fire departments from Birdseye, Celestine, Dubois, Ferdinand, Haysville, Holland, Huntingburg, Ireland, Jasper, St. Anthony, St. Henry and Schnellville have supplied tankers and personnel for water transport to assist in depopulation efforts.

The American Red Cross has assisted by providing food and support to responders.

And Brett Collignon and the Dubois County 4-H Council have allowed the Dubois County 4-H Fairgrounds in Bretzville to be used as a staging area for incident response.

A case of highly pathogenic avian influenza, specifically, a virus known as H7N8 ó was detected nearly two weeks ago. A low-pathogenic form of the virus, which can mutate into the more severe form found on the original site, was detected at an additional nine sites in the county.

Birds at the 10 sites were euthanized to help stop the virus from spreading.

Dubois is Indiana’s largest turkey-producing county, producing 1.4 million birds annually. Indiana ranks fourth in the nation in turkey production. As a major supplier of eggs, ducks and chickens, in addition to turkeys, Indiana’s poultry industry generates $2.4 billion and employs 14,000 Hoosiers.

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