US detects its first case of virulent H7N3 bird flu in commercial poultry since 2017

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The US Department of Agriculture on Thursday confirmed the country’s first case of virulent avian flu in commercial poultry since 2017.

The agency found H7N3 avian influenza, a virulent or highly pathogenic strain, in a turkey flock in Chesterfield County, South Carolina, according to a statement. No human cases of the virus have been detected and there is no immediate public health concern, the USDA said.

The worst-ever US outbreak of avian flu in 2014 and 2015 killed about 50 million birds, most of which were egg-laying hens in Iowa.

Bird flu viruses currently spread swiftly in wild birds and poultry, and can at times jump into humans. Global health and infectious disease specialists cite as one of their greatest concerns the threat of a human flu pandemic caused by a bird flu strain that makes such a jump and mutates into a deadly and airborne form that can pass easily between people, according to a report from Reuters last year.

Last month, Saudi Arabia reported an outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu virus on a poultry farm, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

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