Avian Flu Becoming Major Concern For Pennsylvania Flock Owners

The Avian Flu is one of the most devastating viruses to make its way to poultry farmers and flock keepers alike. Signs of an outbreak were present earlier this year and it would seem that the illness is still wreaking havoc amongst the avian population. 

PENNSYLVANIA STATE | Recently, 30 Canadian Geese were found either sick or dead at the Griffin Reservoir in Lackawanna County. Tests on the geese returned positive for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).

Due to how quickly HPAI can spread between flocks, the public is urged to report any wild bird mortalities to the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Hunters are also reminded to take the proper steps to prevent spreading HPAI unknowingly. HPAI is transmissible to humans, yet only one case of human HPAI has been documented in the United States during this current outbreak.

Hunters are asked to properly handle the birds they harvest during the hunting season and take the following precautions:

  • Harvest only healthy-looking wild birds.
  • Wear gloves when handling any wild birds.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer immediately after handling wild birds.
  • Dress harvested wild birds in the field.
  • Change clothing as needed, especially if visibly soiled or if any wild birds made contact with clothing.
  • Change clothing, including footwear, before coming in contact with any pet birds or domestic poultry
  • Wash all equipment, tools, and work surfaces with soap and water, then disinfect with a 10% household bleach solution. Allow to air dry or rinse after 10 minutes of contact time.

The Game Commission, Wildlife Futures Program, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have tested 1000 wild birds since the beginning of the year throughout the commonwealth and detected HPAI in 47 of these birds. These numbers do not reflect the true severity of the outbreak, as not every bird mortality is tested for HPAI. The agencies assume that HPAI is currently statewide and has yet to show signs of subsiding.

HPAI is especially dangerous to domestic flocks. It has infected 17 commercial flocks and a private flock, resulting in the culling of over 4.2 million birds.

Sick or dead domestic birds should be reported to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture at 717-772-2852 and the Game Commission at 1-833-PGC-WILD or online using the Wildlife Health Survey tool at www.pgcapps.pa.gov/WHS.