The Avian Flu poses little to no danger to humans but can cause extreme difficulty for bird owners due to how rapidly it can spread within a flock if undetected. With an increase in wild bird migrations on the horizon, now is the best time to make preparations to ensure the safety of your birds.
In a Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture press release, the department reminds all poultry owners – backyard flocks and commercial producers – to keep their guard and protect their birds from highly pathogenic avian influenza. After a lull of several weeks in detections, Pennsylvania has a new confirmed case of Avian flu – the state’s first in a noncommercial backyard flock. A flock of ducks and chickens in Upper Mount Bethel Township in Northampton County were confirmed to be infectious after a dead turkey vulture was found on the property. Wild birds are known to be the source of the infection elsewhere.
Poultry and eggs continue to be safe to eat. Human health is not at risk. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, avian influenza does not present an immediate public health concern.
“Poultry and eggs in Northampton County bring in $141 million in sales to support the county’s economy,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “Backyard bird owners should recognize that this disease is deadly to their birds. Protecting their birds helps protect neighboring poultry farms, families, and jobs that depend on those businesses.“
The department has quarantined the farm and established a Control Area around the farm. Control Areas are the 10 km perimeter around an infected, quarantined farm. Poultry owners in Control Areas are subject to testing requirements and must have permits to transport products. Work is underway to clean and disinfect the farm and safely dispose of potentially infected material.
Anyone within 3 km of the infected farm may not transport poultry or egg products. The farm’s Control Area includes a portion of New Jersey. The department is working in conjunction with New Jersey agriculture officials to identify and notify other poultry and egg producers and backyard bird owners in the area of their responsibilities.
Redding reminded backyard bird owners and poultry and egg producers to stay vigilant, especially as wild bird migration season picks up again in the coming weeks.
- Practice excellent biosecurity every day.
- Everyone on the farm should clean clothes, scrub boots or shoes with disinfectant and wash hands before and after contact with animals.
- Keep equipment and vehicles clean, including all those entering your property.
- Control birds and rodents as they can carry and spread disease.
- Keep your birds inside whenever possible and minimize the chance of contact with wild birds.
- Clean under barn soffits and eliminate possible entry points for wild birds.
- Eliminate standing water that may attract wild birds.
Information about protecting your birds and APHIS
For detailed information on biosecurity and protecting your flock, visit the USDA APHIS | Defend the Flock Program.
Report suspected cases and any unusual deaths to the department at 717-772-2852. A veterinarian is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
How To Report A Sick Or Dead Wild Bird
Sick or dead wild birds should be reported to the Pennsylvania Game Commission at 610-926-3136 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last week, Secretary Redding announced the details of $25 million in direct relief to poultry producers to support recovery from the avian influenza outbreak. The 2022-23 budget invests an additional $6 million to the PA Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System to support ongoing testing needs.
More Information About Avian Influenza
To learn more about avian influenza, including whether your farm is within the Control Area of an infected farm, visit the department’s website, agriculture.pa.gov.