The number of turkeys that will have to be euthanized in Dubois County has increased to over 200,000.
Governor Mike Pence visited Dubois County Saturday afternoon and released the information during a meeting with local news media.
According to Pence, who had just met with county officials as well as representatives from the Indiana State Board of Animal Health, Indiana Homeland Security, and other state agencies, samples from two other sites had shown a preliminary indication of the H7N8 avian flu virus. Those sites are within the 6.2-mile testing area established around the Kalb farm where the first infection was found Thursday.
The APHIS National Veterinary Service Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, is in the process of confirming the presence of the virus in the samples.
“I just finished a briefing on the circumstances involving the avian flu that has now been detected at a number of sites,” Pence said. “When we determined that there was one site identified, I authorized the deployment of the full resources of the State of Indiana to contain and to address this situation. There have been additional sites that have been preliminarily identified as having birds that have contracted the avian flu. The Board of Animal Health is in the lead here. And, we have the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Indiana State Department of Health will be on site soon. The Indiana Department of Corrections is on site currently as well.”
Low-level offenders in the department of corrections are assisting with the cleanup of the euthanized turkeys.
“Out of an abundance of caution,” the governor explained well over 200,000 turkeys will be depopulated.
“We have a robust poultry industry in Indiana, and that is nowhere more true than in this area of the state and Dubois County has an extraordinary poultry industry of which we are very proud,” he said. “I am extremely gratefull to Tammy [Dubois County Emergency Management Director], to the sheriff, to the whole public safety team here and to the commissioners; all who have leaned into this effort.”
According to the governor, since the small incident that occurred in Whitley County last year, the state has been preparing for a larger incident of the infection. “I think the response that Dubois County is seeing today is a result of good solid planning at every level,” he explained.
Tammy Humbert, the Emergency Management Director, is the incident commander for the operation that at this point includes representatives from county, state and soon, federal agencies — the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be on site soon. An operational command center hosting all the agencies has been established at the Center for Manufacturing, Innovation and Manufacturing on the VUJC campus.
According to Humbert, VUJC Dean Dr. Chris Gray offered the use of the building’s second floor as a Joint Emergency Operations Center early Friday. The location was ideal due to the multiple conference rooms and highspeed internet available at the location.
The multi-agency response will likely operate from the location for several weeks as this situation continues to unfold.
The best thing the public can do, according to Humbert and county officials, is to stay away from the area impacted by the infection.
In regards to the impact on humans, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has said that this particular strain of avian flu is unlikely to affect humans.
All the animals at the impacted operations are being culled and then disposed of on site. None are allowed to leave the quarantined area.
The Purdue Extension released information on the flu that can be downloaded here AvianInfluenzaFAQ2016.docx.
The economic impact of this infection is hard to measure at this point; 200,000 birds is a relatively small amount of the total turkeys produced in a county that stands as the number turkey producer in the state. However, the county has acknowledged that the impact will have far reaching effects beyond the farm operators.
During the meeting today, Gov. Pence indicated the state was going to work with those operators and farmers impacted by the infection.
“The state of Indiana is going to work in full partnership with all of our producers to ensure that all the resources that are available through the USDA are secured to mitigate the financial impact here,” Pence said. “Right now, the focus is on containing it [the infection] and resolving it.”