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04/18/2018

Agriculture Officials Urge Vigilance, Poultry Biosecurity During Spring Migration

Harrisburg, PA - Pennsylvania’s Agriculture secretary and state veterinarian today urged poultry owners to take effective biosecurity measures through May to prevent the spread of avian influenza during spring wild bird migration.

“Effective biosecurity is the best way to protect Pennsylvania poultry,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “Migrating waterfowl may be carrying avian influenza as they pass through Pennsylvania. Flock owners should not take extra precautions during migration seasons, but also year-round to protect their investments and their operations. One positive case of avian influenza can be devastating to any operation, so vigilance and sound biosecurity practices are essential.”

So far this season, there have been no major outbreaks or flocks identified with the more pathogenic strains of avian influenza in the United States. Two separate low-pathogenic influenza incidents in the southern and western U.S. were identified and quickly controlled earlier this year.

“A good year so far is not reason to let down your guard,” State Veterinarian Dr. David Wolfgang noted. “The best prevention of a devastating disease outbreak is to develop effective biosecurity plans — but a plan is only effective if it is put into practice.”

Wolfgang offered producers the following tips for protecting their poultry:

  • Limit access to your property. Do not allow visitors unless necessary.
  • Only allow clean, sanitized equipment to service your farm or make deliveries. Restrict access of unnecessary personnel.
  • Maintain biosecurity procedures for cleanliness. Pay special attention to shoes, hands, equipment, and machinery. Maintain programs to control feral birds and rodents.
  • If you must visit places with other poultry or livestock, be sure to clean and disinfect your car or truck tires and any equipment you used; wash hands thoroughly; wear shoe covers or clean and disinfect your shoes or boots; and always change your clothes.
  • Do not borrow tools or equipment from other producers who also have poultry.
  • Prevent contact between your flock and feral birds or waterfowl.
  • Know clinical signs of disease in your flocks, and call for professional help if unusual or severe disease is detected.
  • Report serious or unusual health problems to your veterinarian, local extension office, state or federal animal health officials as quickly as you can. The department’s 24-hour animal health line is 717.772.2852.

Agriculture department staff will assess biosecurity plans as part of their annual inspections of poultry facilities. Animal health staff are ready to support producers who need assistance developing biosecurity plans. The department has also conducted regular response drills in conjunction with other state, federal, and local officials, as well as private industry representatives to ready the industry for rapid, effective response in the event of a disease outbreak.

The nationally-recognized Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System’s veterinarians have advanced training and expertise in poultry diseases. They deal with all types of avian health problems, from the common to the unusual, and can help sort out individual bird problems from those that may cause sickness in an entire flock. Learn more and find assistance in your area at http://extension.psu.edu/animals/poultry/small-poultry-flocks/getting-help.

For more information about the department’s efforts to protect animal health in Pennsylvania visit agriculture.pa.gov.

MEDIA CONTACT: Shannon Powers - 717.783.2628

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