USDA reports first bird flu case since June, different strain than last year

New bird flu case found in Indiana: USDA
New bird flu case found in Indiana: USDA   

Bird flu has infected a commercial turkey flock in Indiana, though the strain is different from the one that caused a widespread outbreak last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Friday.

This marks the first highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) case since June. In the past year, the U.S. poultry industry has been hit hard by avian flu. Before this latest sighting, HPAI had affected 211 commercial and 21 backyard poultry premises since December 2014.

The USDA said state officials had quarantined the facility in Dubois County, Indiana. Depopulation of the flock has begun to prevent spread of the disease.

A bird flu outbreak affecting turkeys has been reported in Dubois County, Indiana on Jan. 15th, 2016. (File photo).
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images
A bird flu outbreak affecting turkeys has been reported in Dubois County, Indiana on Jan. 15th, 2016. (File photo).

Shares of poultry producers fell in response to the news. Tyson Foods, Pilgrims Pride and Sanderson Farms shares dropped about 3 percent, 6 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

Shell egg producer Cal-Maine Foods' stock spiked following the news and was last 8 percent higher.

Brian Moscogiuri, shell egg and egg product market analyst at Urner Barry, said it's "still too early to tell" how retail turkey and egg prices would be affected by the news.

"No egg-laying hens have been affected so we have to wait to see what happens," he said.

In last year's bird flu outbreak — the worst in decades — infected flocks prompted the depopulation of 7.5 million turkeys and 42.1 million chickens. The cost to federal taxpayers has already hit more than $950 million.

To help contain bird flu, the USDA has been planning for a worst-case scenario in which 500 or more commercial flocks across a wide swath of the U.S. could be affected.

Its plan includes promoting improved biosecurity practices on farms, improving surveillance of wild birds (which have spread the virus in the past) and promoting rapid detection of the illness in domestic poultry before depopulating affected flocks within 24 hours.

Reuters contributed to this report.