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Highly Pathogenic Avian Flu Found at Lancaster County Poultry Farm


Wednesday, April 20, 2022   

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has confirmed a positive case of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in a flock of commercial layer chickens in Lancaster County.

Also known as "high path AI", there is no immediate public health concern since no human cases of avian influenza have been detected in the United States. However, it can cause sudden death, lack of energy and appetite, decreased egg production and more in infected birds.

Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said an interagency task force is working to address the threat from the disease and protect the state's $7.1 billion poultry industry.

"Biosecurity is most important for anyone who owns or works with poultry," he said. "Anyone visiting a farm should be aware that your vehicles and shoes may carry the virus from other places you have traveled. Clean them thoroughly and stay away from the poultry barns unless you have to be there."

This is the first positive case of high-path AI in commercial poultry in the state since an outbreak in 1983 and 1984. Infections in commercial and backyard poultry flocks have been confirmed in 29 states, including most surrounding Pennsylvania.

The Department of Agriculture has quarantined the farm and all commercial poultry facilities within a 10-kilometer radius of the infected flock. Jeff Warner, acting deputy secretary of animal health and food safety, said it's important for poultry producers in the state to ensure biosecurity practices are part of their daily routine.

"The ability to identify where poultry flocks are located in a disease outbreak is important to help animal-health officials stop the spread of the disease quickly, he said. "Using premises' ID, state officials can quickly notify all flock owners of a dangerous disease in their area and recommend testing if needed to rule out the disease."

Warner added that poultry and eggs remain safe to eat if cooked properly. Analysis of the samples taken in other states has shown that the virus is being spread by infected wild birds.

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