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Mortality and Egg Production Patterns in the United States Prior to HP/LPAI H7N9 Detection

Garber, Lindsey, Malladi, Sasidhar, Gustafson, Lori, Jones, Rebecca, Tsao, Kimberly, Schoenbaum, Melissa
Avian diseases 2018 v.63 no.sp1 pp. 246-250
Influenza A virus, avian influenza, barns, broiler breeders, egg production, farms, hens, immunologic techniques, mortality, pathogenicity, polymerase chain reaction, signs and symptoms (animals and humans), United States
In March 2017, two commercial broiler breeder operations were confirmed with H7N9 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), and an additional six commercial broiler breeder operations were found positive with an H7N9 low pathogenicity avian influenza virus (LPAIV) or an H7 LPAIV (N type not identified). To better understand conditions leading up to testing positive for AI, egg production and mortality data for the 6 mo before the outbreak were obtained from five case farms (two HPAIV-infected farms and three LPAIV-infected farms) and two control farms. Both HPAI farms experienced a sudden spike in mortality immediately before testing positive. Two LPAI farms experienced drops in egg production along with slight increases in mortality that occurred after a negative serologic test and before a positive PCR test. The third LPAI farm also had a notable drop in egg production with a coinciding increase in mortality before testing positive for AIV (last negative test date not available). Additionally, both HPAI farms and two LPAI farms reported mild respiratory illnesses in the weeks prior to testing positive for AI. Control farms did not experience similar drops in production or increase in mortality. Clinical signs on LPAI farms were mild and easily confused with background health patterns, suggesting the need for improved sensitivity to identify LPAI quickly. Applying a trigger of a 2% drop in egg production along with a mortality of 8 per 10 000 hens in individual barns showed that all case farms would be identified and uninfected farms would be falsely triggered on 1% of days monitored.