Bird flu has struck a third commercial poultry farm in Central California, according to a report posted Wednesday by the World Organization for Animal Health.
Some 61,000 turkeys in Merced County were infected by low pathogenic H7N3 virus, a North American strain of bird flu. An outbreak of highly pathogenic H7N3 caused some 7.8 million birds to be culled in 2013 in central Mexico, according to an OIE report.
The OIE, relaying information provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, reported that a tom turkey flock exhibited coughing and a slight increase in mortality March 9. Tests for bird flu at 10 associated farms were negative.
The outbreaks brings to seven the number of U.S. commercial poultry farms infected with bird flu this year. The other four have been in Minnesota, Arkansas and two in Missouri, all in the Mississippi Flyway.
The number of birds at the seven infected operations total 430,800, according to reports supplied to OIE.
Eleven commercial flocks were infected in British Columbia, Canada, in December, causing 245,600 turkeys and chickens to be culled.
An Eurasian strain of highly pathogenic H5N8 struck a Foster Farms turkey operation in Stanislaus County, California, in late January and a chicken farm in Kings County in February.
Bird flu was first detected in the United States in a northern pintail duck collected in Whatcom County in Washington state in mid-December. Since then, the virus has been found in varying strains in dozens of wild birds in six Western states and in non-commercial flocks in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
Bird flu was confirmed for the first time in the Central Flyway on March 13. A backyard flock of mixed poultry in Leavenworth, Kansas, was infected with highly pathogenic H5N2, according to the USDA.
Oregon, Washington and Idaho experienced a series of bird flu outbreaks in December, January and February, but none since mid-February. The Oregon Department of Agriculture on March 12 lifted restrictions and removed a quarantine in Deschutes County, where highly pathogenic avian influenza infected a backyard flock near Tumalo.