Animal Health Alerts

Canine Influenza Update - August 15, 2017 - The state veterinarian has learned of an increase in canine respiratory illness cases in the Memphis area in recent weeks. Preliminary testing indicates these cases are a Type A flu virus. Further testing is underway.

Canine Influenza Detected in Tennessee - June 14, 2017 - The state veterinarian is advising dog owners to monitor their pets due to reports of canine influenza in Tennessee.

The UT College of Veterinary Medicine recently confirmed detection of canine influenza (CI) in four dogs in East Tennessee. The illness in three of the dogs is believed to have originated at a dog show in Perry, Georgia.

Canine influenza—or dog flu—is a highly contagious viral infection. It is spread among dogs via direct contact, nasal secretions (through barking, coughing or sneezing), and contaminated objects. People who handle infected dogs may also transmit the virus to healthy dogs.

This virus can affect cats, however there is no evidence that the strains of CI detected in the U.S. have caused illness in humans.

Symptoms of CI may include a persistent cough, discharge from the nose or eyes, sneezing, lethargy, loss of appetite and/or fever. Nearly all dogs exposed to CI become infected. Although it will result in a mild illness in most dogs, in some cases it can lead to pneumonia and even death, particularly for puppies, elderly dogs and dogs with pre-existing health conditions. If you suspect your dog may be ill, contact your veterinarian immediately.

There is a vaccine for the H3N2 strain of CI. Ask your veterinarian if the vaccine would benefit your dog.

The state veterinarian offers these tips:

  • Make sure your dog is up-to-date on all appropriate vaccinations.
  • Wash your hands after contact with any dogs.
  • Avoid co-mingling dogs.
  • Do not share equipment or toys between dogs.
  • Immediately isolate any dog that shows signs of illness and contact your veterinarian.


University of Tennessee Canine Influenza Updates

Fact Sheet for Dog Owners

Fact Sheet for Veterinarians

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) Detected in Lincoln County - March 5, 2017 - The state veterinarian confirms that a strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has sickened a commercial chicken breeder flock in Lincoln County.

“Many Tennessee families rely on the poultry industry for their livelihoods, and the state is working closely with local, county and federal partners and the poultry industry to control the situation and protect the flocks that are critical to our state’s economy,” Gov. Bill Haslam said.

HPAI is known to be deadly for domesticated chickens and turkeys. On March 3, a commercial chicken facility in Lincoln County alerted the state veterinarian’s office at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to an increase in chicken deaths. Testing at state and federal laboratories confirmed the presence of H7 HPAI in samples from that flock.

“Animal health is our top priority,” state veterinarian, Dr. Charles Hatcher, DVM said. “With this HPAI detection, we are moving quickly and aggressively to prevent the virus from spreading.”

The facility is under quarantine, along with approximately 30 other poultry farms within a 10 kilometer radius (6.2 miles) of the site. The affected flock is being depopulated to stop potential spread of the illness, and officials are testing and monitoring other flocks within the quarantined area. No other flocks have experienced an increase in mortality.

HPAI does not pose a risk to the food supply. No affected animals entered the food chain. The risk of human infection with avian influenza during poultry outbreaks is very low. In fact, no transmission to humans was reported during the outbreak that affected commercial poultry farms in the Midwestern United States in 2015. Also, this is not the same strain identified in that outbreak. However, out of an abundance of caution, officials with the Tennessee Department of Health and Tennessee Department of Agriculture are working together to address concerns about the health of individuals who are working on site or had contact with affected birds.

Prior to this HPAI case, the most recent U.S. detection was in January of 2016 in a commercial turkey flock in Indiana.

“Although this is a situation no state wants to face, Tennessee has been actively preparing to respond to HPAI since it was first identified as a threat,” Commissioner of Agriculture Jai Templeton said.

This is the first time highly pathogenic avian influenza has been detected in Tennessee, however low path avian influenza has affected Tennessee poultry flocks in the past. State officials and partners have extensive experience in effectively containing the virus. The plan for the control of avian influenza includes coordination of resources and response, and protocols for quarantine, testing, disposal, cleaning, disinfection and monitoring.

Owners of commercial and backyard poultry flocks are encouraged to closely observe their birds.

* Report a sudden increase in the number of sick birds or bird deaths to the state veterinarian’s office (615) 837-5120 and/or USDA at 1-866-536-7593
* Prevent contact with wild birds
* Practice good biosecurity
* Enroll in the National Poultry Improvement Plan
* Follow Animal Health Alert updates

The source of the Lincoln County virus has not yet been determined. This version of H7 HPAI is confirmed as a North American wild bird lineage. 

Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) in West Tennessee - May 29, 2015 - The state veterinarian is advising horse owners of two new confirmed cases of equine infectious anemia (EIA) in West Tennessee. A horse stabled in Gibson County tested positive for EIA. Follow-up testing confirmed the positive results and the horse was humanely euthanized. A horse in Henderson County has been confirmed as positive for EIA, however it has not yet been decided if that horse will be euthanized or quarantined for life. Veterinarians are testing additional horses that were stabled with or near the infected animals.

With these latest cases, a total of six horses have been diagnosed with EIA in Tennessee in 2015. Two horses in Henderson County were euthanized. Two EIA-positive mules from Henderson County have joined a research herd at the National Veterinarian Services Lab in Ames, Iowa. Although they must remain in permanent quarantine with other EIA-positive equines, they will live an otherwise normal life and receive excellent care. As part of the research herd, they will contribute blood samples to be used in efforts to develop treatment and a potential vaccine for EIA.

EIA is a viral disease most commonly transmitted by biting insects. Although an infected horse can run a low-grade fever or become lethargic, often there are no clinical signs. A horse remains infected throughout its lifetime and can pass the disease to other horses. Owners of EIA-positive horses have two options: lifetime quarantine of the animal or euthanasia. A yearly Coggins test will screen for antibodies that are indicative of the presence of EIA. State law requires a negative Coggins test for any horse that is transported from its home farm to any event or other location.

To ensure the safety of your horse, make sure its Coggins test is current and that your animal does not have close contact with any horses that are not up-to-date. Cleanliness in and around your barn and a manure management plan can also help reduce the fly population. The state veterinarian and staff are focused on animal health and disease prevention through disease testing and surveillance.

Tennessee normally experiences a few cases of EIA each year. For more information, contact your local veterinarian or the state veterinarian's office at 615-837-5120.

Avian Flu Advisory - March 12, 2015 - The state veterinarian is advising owners of poultry flocks of an avian influenza outbreak affecting nine other states.

“Although this outbreak has not affected producers in Tennessee, we want owners to be aware of the situation so that they can take steps to protect their flocks,” state veterinarian Dr. Charles Hatcher said.

Officials believe water fowl migrating south from Canada are the source for the H5 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), which is known to be deadly for domesticated fowl. The earliest cases were reported in backyard and commercial flocks in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Utah and California. More recently Minnesota and Missouri reported cases, and now the USDA has confirmed positive samples from a commercial turkey facility in Boone County, Arkansas. A suspected case of H7 low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) has also been detected at a commercial turkey operation in California.

In all cases, the affected facilities have been put under quarantine and the flocks depopulated to prevent spread of the illness. Monitoring and surveillance testing continues at facilities near each affected site.

It is important to note there is no known threat to public health or to the food supply. This is not the same strain of avian flu that has been known to cause human illnesses. However, workers who had contact with the infected birds are being monitored as a precaution.

Owners of poultry flocks are encouraged to closely observe their birds.

* Report a sudden increase in the number of sick birds or bird deaths to the state veterinarian’s office (615) 837-5120
* Prevent contact with wild birds
* Practice good biosecurity
* Enroll in the National Poultry Improvement Plan
* Follow Animal Health Alert updates

Animal Disease Traceability - The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is now conducting routine compliance checks for the federal Animal Disease Traceability rule, which requires appropriate documentation and identification of livestock being transported across state lines.  The goal is to quickly identify and stop the spread of illness in the event of a disease outbreak.

The rule took effect 2013 and the department launched an educational outreach to producers, haulers, and veterinarians.  The only difference now is that the department will enforce compliance.

Producers should consult with their veterinarians to determine specific import requirements for the destination state and the livestock being shipped.

Many documents, including certificates of veterinary inspection (health papers), equine passports and Coggins tests are now available electronically, providing time and cost savings to owners.