Keep Your Guard Up, Poultry Owners: Protecting Your Flock from Avian Influenza

ChickenImage via Pixabay

PENNSYLVANIA — The Department of Agriculture has issued a renewed call to arms for all poultry owners, be they backyard hobbyists or commercial producers. The familiar foe? Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), a disease that can wreak havoc on bird populations.

Pennsylvania has recently detected a new case of avian influenza in a game bird flock in Lower Mahanoy Township, Northumberland County, after several months with no new detections. Samples are currently being tested at the USDA National Veterinary Services lab for confirmation. In the meantime, the Department has taken swift action to mitigate any potential impact.

It is important to note that poultry and eggs remain safe to consume, and there is no immediate risk to human health, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Department has quarantined the affected farm and established a 10-kilometer Control Area around it. Within these Control Areas, poultry owners must adhere to testing requirements and secure permits to transport poultry, poultry products, and related equipment. Moreover, anyone within three kilometers of the infected farm is prohibited from transporting any poultry or egg products.

In light of these developments, the Department encourages poultry owners to stay vigilant, especially during the ongoing wild bird migration season.

Implementing excellent biosecurity measures is key. This includes routine practices like cleaning clothes, disinfecting boots or shoes, and washing hands before and after contact with animals. Keeping equipment and vehicles clean, controlling birds and rodents that can carry and spread diseases, and minimizing contact between your birds and wild birds are also crucial steps.

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Backyard bird owners and poultry and egg producers can find detailed information on biosecurity and protecting their flocks on the USDA APHIS | Defend the Flock Program website.

The recent budget signed by Governor Shapiro increased funding for the Department of Agriculture by nearly 6.4%, which includes $31 million to aid poultry farmers affected by the HPAI crisis. This funding will cover testing costs and help offset losses to their flocks.

The HPAI Recovery Reimbursement Grant program, administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, provides reimbursement to farms and related industries directly impacted by HPAI. The Shapiro Administration has deployed a team of over 170 experts to conduct testing and improve security measures on farms across the Commonwealth.

Poultry owners should remain vigilant for signs of disease and report any suspected cases or unusual deaths to the department. Sick or dead wild birds should be reported to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Through vigilance and adherence to biosecurity practices, poultry owners can contribute significantly to the effort to control and prevent the spread of avian influenza.

To access a comprehensive list of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States, visit the official website of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) at aphis.usda.gov.

For further information on avian influenza, including determining if your farm falls within the Control Area of an infected farm, kindly refer to the website of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture at agriculture.pa.gov.

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