EAST DONEGAL TOWNSHIP, LANCASTER COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture confirmed Saturday the first avian flu infection in the commonwealth’s commercial poultry industry.
A case of avian flu turned up in a flock of chickens at a poultry farm in Lancaster County. The farm in East Donegal Township, and all commercial poultry farms within a six-mile radius of it, are under quarantine.
The PA Department of Agriculture says while there is no risk to human beings, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is highly infectious and can be fatal to domestic birds.
“Protecting Pennsylvania’s $7.1B poultry industry is a year-round top priority,” said PA Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “We have strict biosecurity protocols in place both for Pennsylvania farms and for poultry products shipped in and out of the state.
Russell also stated that anyone who visits a farm should be aware that vehicles and shoes can carry the virus from other places you have walked. Be sure to clean them thoroughly and says people should stay away from poultry barns unless you have to be there.
The domestic poultry infection comes about three weeks after a wild bald eagle in Chester County tested positive for avian flu.
An interagency HPAI task force will be working regularly to address and treat the threat of avian influenza to the commonwealth’s bird populations. The task force includes the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the departments of agriculture, health, general services, and environmental protection, PSP, the PA Game Commission, the air national guard, and the USDA’s animal and plant health inspection services, veterinary services and wildlife services.
The task force is set to carry out a response plan that includes education and public outreach, minimizing risks through strict measures and continued surveillance, testing and management.
Even though HPAI is highly contagious among domestic birds like chickens, turkeys, and geese, poultry and eggs are safe to eat if cooked properly.
HPAI is spread through direct contact between healthy birds and waste from infected birds. It can cause sudden death, lethargy, loss of appetite, decreased egg production, soft-shelled or misshapen eggs, swelling, discoloration, nasal discharge, coughing, sneezing lack of coordination, and diarrhea.
If anyone suspects your poultry may have been infected with HPAI, report it to the PA Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services at 717-772-2582, option 1. The phone line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Sick or dead wild birds should be reported to the pa game commission at 610-926-3136 or pgc-wildlife@pa.Gov. For more information on avian influenza visit the Department of Agriculture’s website.