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Avian flu concerns increase after being detected at poultry farm in Pennsylvania

Avian Flu Concerns Increase After Being Detected At Poultry Farm In Pennsylvania 02:06

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is urging Pennsylvanians to be vigilant after the first case of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza was found in a poultry farm.

The Department of Agriculture called a news conference Monday to discuss how critical it is to stop the spread of the avian flu, so it doesn't land in more poultry farms and hurt the state's poultry industry.

The avian flu hit the heart of Pennsylvania's poultry industry, Lancaster County, on Saturday. It was found in a flock of chickens at a poultry farm in East Donegal Township, Lancaster County. The state's Agriculture Secretary, Russell Redding, said 1.4 million birds were being euthanized.

"With this turn of events, we cannot let our guard down," Redding said. "It's even more critical that Pennsylvanians stay vigilant and maintain discipline biosecurity planning."

A state and federal interagency task force has initiated a response plan to address the threat to wild and domestic bird populations. Redding said strict biosecurity protocols are in place for farms, and for poultry products being shipped in and out of Pennsylvania.

"Genetic analysis taken in other states has shown that the virus is being spread by infected wild birds," said Alex Hamberg, the assistant director of the Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services.

The Agriculture Department has quarantined the farm in Lancaster County and all commercial poultry facilities within a 10-kilometer radius.

Health leaders ask Pennsylvanians to do their part on farms and in backyards.

"Biosecurity is most important for anyone who owns or works with poultry, whether on a commercial farm, in the wild or backyard flock," Redding said.

"Keep your birds indoors at high-risk times, including right now, as avian flu is circulating in the Atlantic flyway, if the birds cannot be housed, make sure wild birds cannot access their feed and water sources," Deputy Secretary of Animal Health and Food Safety Jeff Warner said.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture recommends anyone who visits or works at a poultry farm to make sure to thoroughly clean any surface they or their clothes may touch since it may carry traces of the avian flu.

If you suspect your poultry is infected, they ask you to report it to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services at 717-772-2852, option 1.

If you spot sick or dead wild birds, it should be reported to the Pennsylvania Game Commission at 610-926-3136 or

The National Aviary in Pittsburgh said its birds remain in good health, and its experts monitor each of their 500 birds every day. A spokesperson said most of the aviary's birds already live in indoor habitats, and outdoor habitats are specifically designed to prevent exposure to wildlife that could be carriers of the avian flu virus.

The Pittsburgh Zoo said all of its animals are currently healthy.

The Agriculture Department said the interagency HPAI task force includes the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the departments of Agriculture, Health, General Services and Environmental Protection, the State Police, the Game Commission, the Air National Guard, and U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's (APHIS) Veterinary Services and Wildlife Services.

Wild birds in Pennsylvania were confirmed to be infected in March, including a bald eagle in Chester County and four ducks in Venango County. 

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