More than 50,000 turkeys on a farm west of Mount Jackson tested positive for avian flu antibodies, prompting additional testing and surveillance at area poultry farms, officials said.
The infected birds will be killed and composted on site, said Hobey Bauhan, president of the Virginia Poultry Federation.
To prevent spread of the virus, more testing and surveillance will be conducted within a six-mile radius of the farm and at the more than 1,000 poultry farms in the Shenandoah Valley, Bauhan said.
The turkeys, which were ready to be sent to the slaughterhouse, tested positive during a routine pre-slaughter test by the Virginia
Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services on Friday, Bauhan said.
Avian flu spreads when infected birds transmit the virus through saliva, nasal secretions and feces, and other birds have contact with contaminated secretions or excretions, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
“This strain doesn’t have any effect on people and it produces only mild symptoms, if any, in birds,” he said.
Although the subtype of avian flu found in the turkeys poses no risk to human health, federal and state officials are concerned
that the strain can change into a more pathogenic form that causes higher mortality in birds.