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Avian flu case confirmed in Northampton County; first Pa. case found in backyard flock

Allentown Morning Call logo Allentown Morning Call 8/13/2022 Leif Greiss, The Morning Call

A case of avian flu has been detected among a backyard flock of ducks and chickens in Upper Mount Bethel Township.

This is the first case of avian flu detected in Pennsylvania in weeks and is notable because it is the first confirmed case in the state among a noncommercial backyard flock, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

Ducks and chickens in the Upper Mount Bethel flock were confirmed to have been infected by a turkey vulture that died on the property. Wild birds are known to be vectors for avian flu infections.

As a result of the confirmed case, the state quarantined the farm and established a 10-kilometer (about 6- mile) control area around the farm. Poultry owners within the control area are subject to testing requirements and must have permits to transport products. Work is also underway to clean and disinfect the farm and safely dispose of potentially infected material.

Additionally, anyone within 3 kilometers, or nearly 2 miles, of the infected farm may not transport poultry or egg products. Some parts of New Jersey are also subject to the control area and the state 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.

Though avian flu is dangerous for birds, humans are not at risk and poultry or eggs are safe to eat. Avian flu doesn’t present an immediate public health concern, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Poultry and eggs in Northampton County bring in $141 million in sales to support the county’s economy,” Russell Redding, state secretary of agriculture said. “Backyard bird owners should recognize that this disease is deadly to their birds. Protecting their birds helps protect neighboring poultry farms and the families and jobs that depend on those businesses.”

Last week, Redding announced the details of $25 million in direct relief to poultry producers to support recovery from the avian flu outbreak. The 2022-23 budget invests an additional $6 million in the Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System to support ongoing testing needs.

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 with these steps:

  • Practice excellent biosecurity every day.
  • Wear clean clothes and 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 who can carry and spread disease.
  • Keep 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 might attract wild birds.

Report suspected cases of avian flu and any unusual deaths to the USDA at 717-772-2852. Sick or dead wild birds should be reported to the Pennsylvania Game Commission at 610-926-3136 or pgc-wildlifehealth@pa.gov.

For a complete listing of confirmed infections in the U.S. visit the USDA’s website, aphis.usda.gov.

©2022 The Morning Call. Visit mcall.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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