Harrisburg, PA - Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and State Veterinarian Dr. David Wolfgang today reminded poultry owners to take effective biosecurity measures through December to prevent the spread of avian influenza during fall wild bird migration.
“Pennsylvania’s poultry industry is crucial to our economy,” said Secretary Redding. “One positive case of avian influenza can be devastating to an operation, so sound biosecurity practices are essential year-round. But extra vigilance is important when migratory birds are in the state.”
Avian influenza viruses can infect chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, ducks, geese, and guinea fowl, as well as a variety of other birds. 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 turkeys in the mid-west and western U.S. were recently identified and quickly controlled.
“The best prevention of a devastating disease outbreak is to develop effective biosecurity plans,” Dr. Wolfgang noted. “But a plan is only effective if it is put consistently 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 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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