The discovery of a strain of avian influenza in a turkey farm in Indiana has led U.S. health officials to employ emergency plans that were drawn up after last summer’s devastating bird flu outbreak. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the federal government sprang into action on Friday after confirmation overnight that the virus had hit an Indiana turkey farm, alerting other states to the danger and putting workers who might have been exposed to the virus under surveillance.

"We are hopeful that as we respond very quickly to this virus that we can get it contained and hopefully not see an extensive outbreak like we did last year," said T.J. Myers, an associate deputy administrator for the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Last year’s outbreak lead to the deaths of more than 48 million birds, either from the virus itself or from attempts to contain it. The U.S. poultry industry suffered billions of dollars in losses because of the outbreak. There were no reports of any illnesses among humans. Strains similar to the new virus, known as H7N8, have on rare occasions made people ill.

As part of the new protocols, flocks that are exposed to the virus are to be culled within 24 hours or diagnosis. Most of the turkeys at the Indiana farm, which is a supplier to Farbest Foods, were killed within a day, but the culling was not completed until 29 hours after diagnosis.

"In the poultry business, there's a positive determination that this new strain not have any chance at proving what it might be able to do," said Keith Williams, a spokesman for the National Turkey Federation.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch