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Bird flu found in south Georgia duck flock; estimated 30,000 birds to be killed to prevent spread

SUMTER COUNTY, Ga. — The Georgia Department of Agriculture and USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed that a duck breeding facility in south Georgia tested positive for Avian Influenza.

According to officials, the facility in Sumter County has the first positive case of bird flu in a waterfowl flock in the state.

Bird flu does not pose a risk to the food supply, and none of the affected animals have entered the food chain.

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“For the first time in 2023, HPAI has been confirmed in a commercial Duck breeding operation in Georgia,” Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper said. “Our team of Animal Health Specialists responded immediately by quarantining the affected premises, beginning depopulation of all birds on site to prevent further spread of the disease, and they continue to monitor all other flocks within the control area. While HPAI does not represent a significant threat to humans or the safety of our food supply, its impact on poultry is devastating, and we’ll continue to work overtime with our partners at APHIS to protect Georgia’s poultry industry.”

The flock owner reported the case on Nov. 18 after ducks showed signs of neurological impairment followed by increased mortality. Samples were taken and tested at the University of Georgia’s Tifton Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. The results were then verified by the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

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To prevent the disease from spreading, officials said around 30,000 birds in the flock will be killed.

Officials also monitor nearby flocks to ensure the disease does not spread.

The announcement comes after similar cases were found in Alabama, Tennessee and Flordia in recent weeks. Officials identified the source as wild birds who spread the disease to the flocks.

Owners of poultry flocks are encouraged to report a sudden increase in sick birds and deaths to the Avian Influenza Hotline at 770-766-6850.

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