The Arkansas Department of Agriculture on Thursday confirmed avian flu in a backyard flock in Arkansas County, the third flock in the state where the virus has been found.
The flock of 16 turkeys, chickens, and quail has been "depopulated" and buried on site, the department said. An outbreak earlier this year in Madison County affected a commercial flock of 56,000. In Pope County, the virus hit a backyard flock of 470.
"We will continue to work with poultry growers, the industry, and our laboratory partners to protect against the spread of avian influenza," Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward said in a statement. "Arkansas poultry is safe to eat, and consumers can be confident in the safety of their food."
Avian flu has killed more than 52.4 million birds across 46 states this year, making the outbreak the nation's worst on record. Many of the chickens and turkeys were killed to prevent the virus from spreading. Those losses have tightened supply and contributed to soaring meat and egg prices.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture told Reuters this week that 85% of avian flu cases this year have been traced to wild birds.
To mitigate the spread of the disease, Arkansas officials recommend that producers keep birds indoors or covered to prevent exposure to wild or migratory birds; restrict access to any water source that may have been contaminated by wild birds; and implement strict biosecurity measures to prevent exposure to wild waterfowl or their droppings.
Those steps are recommended for the next 30 days, especially in the Delta area.