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Bird Flu Affecting Midwest Poultry Raising Concerns Among PA Agriculture Officials

By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Pennsylvania officials are stepping up their vigilance of turkey and chicken flocks in the state in the wake of an outbreak of a deadly bird flu that has infected millions of turkeys and egg-laying hens in parts of the Midwest and the plains.

The bird flu hasn't made it to Pennsylvania, yet. Dr. Craig Shultz, director of the bureau of animal health in the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, says it may not.

But Shultz says the destruction of some eight million turkeys and chickens on farms in Minnesota, Iowa and neighboring states to stop the spread of the disease is raising the alert level here and in nearby states.

However, he says the virus generally doesn't pose a risk to humans.

"The risk of an avian influenza virus infecting a human and causing disease is very rare, but it is not zero," Shultz says. "And that's why there's always a public health presence when avian influenza is detected and public health authorities are as vigilant as well."

He says migrating water fowl such as ducks are the primary carriers of the disease.

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