MI agriculture officials watching rise in Avian flu

South Korea will ban imports of USA poultry and eggs after a strain of H7 bird flu virus was confirmed on Sunday at a chicken farm in Tennessee, South Korea's agriculture ministry said.

The statement said all Tyson poultry operations in the USA are operating under heightened biosecurity as a result of avian flu outbreaks in this country in 2015.

HPAI does not pose a threat to the food supply, and no affected animals entered the food chain, the statement said. It's the first confirmed case of HPAI in USA commercial poultry this year. The H7 strain found in Tennessee prompted the state to place 30 other farms in the area under quarantine for testing, according to meat industry publication Meatingplace. Tyson said in a statement that this case should not disrupt its chicken business. The disease travels through wild birds and there's a possibility that this outbreak could mean other farms in the area might be affected. Sanderson Farms, the third-largest poultry producer, cracked down on the movement of people and vehicles into its facilities, the news service said.

Strains of influenza A are generally identified by two types of proteins they carry on their surface, the neuraminidase (N) and hemagglutinin (H) proteins. The agriculture ministry also prohibited poultry and eggs imports from Spain where an occurrence of the highly contagious H5N8 bird flu virus was observed since February 24.

A deadly form of the bird flu has a Tennessee chicken farm under quarantine.

Delmarva chicken growers are being put on notice about avian flu after the discovery during the weekend that a flock had become infected in Tennessee.

In January 2016, a commercial turkey farm in Dubois County, Indiana, tested positive for the H7N8 strain of avian influenza.

"Animal health is our top priority", said Tennessee state veterinarian Charles Hatcher.

According to the USDA, almost 73,000 chickens had to be euthanized at the Tennessee facility.

At this point, there have been no reported cases of human bird flu infection in the US though. The technical name for the influenza found in Tennessee is highly pathogenic H7 avian influenza (HPAI).

"With this positive H7NX finding, there is an urgent need for all poultry producers to be vigilant in maintaining biosecurity on farms, particularly wild bird control at this time of year", said Dr. John Glisson, vice president of research programs for USPOULTRY based in Tucker, Ga.