State ag officials warn about avian flu
ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Department of Agriculture is calling for a renewed effort this winter by all poultry producers to intensify their biosecurity efforts. Recent High Path Avian Influenza outbreaks in Western Europe, Russia, Israel, India, Korea, and now Japan mean Maryland poultry growers, large and small, are at a much higher risk of seeing High Path Avian Influenza (HPAI) destroy their flocks.
“These two HPAI viruses are a real threat that our growers must take seriously,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Michael Radebaugh. “These viruses can be carried by waterfowl migrating this winter southward across the Bering Strait into Western Canada and could be introduced into the lower 48 states through one of the four U.S. migratory flyways.”
“While we have been fortunate to date, we must be vigilant and cannot afford to take any risks. All growers, no matter their flock size or location, must increase their vigilance and take precautions now,” said Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “We know it’s difficult to maintain a high level of biosecurity alert day after day, but it is better than the alternative. We have to do all we can to keep this virus out of our poultry flocks.”
The Department of Agriculture recommends to maintain a sanitary, bio-secure premise, each grower shall, at a minimum:
Restrict access to poultry by posting a sign stating “Restricted Access,” securing the area with a gate, or both.
Take steps to ensure that contaminated materials on the ground are not transported into the poultry growing house or area.
Provide footbaths and foot mats with disinfectant; a boot washing and disinfectant station; and footwear change or foot covers.
Cover and secure feed to prevent wild birds, rodents or other animals from accessing it.
Cover and properly contain poultry carcasses, used litter, or other diseasecontaining organic materials to prevent wild birds, rodents or other animals from accessing them and to keep them from being blown around by wind.
Allow MDA to enter the premises during normal working hours to inspect your biosecurity and sanitation practices.
Growers should also report any unusual bird deaths or sudden increases in very sick birds to the Animal Health Program at 410-841-5810 or after hours to 410-841-5971. All growers and others interested in HPAI are strongly encouraged to read up about HPAI and biosecurity measures on the MDA website.
HPAI can be easily transmitted from bird to bird and from contaminated equipment to birds. Prior to 2014, there have been only three HPAI outbreaks in commercial poultry in U.S. history (1924, 1983 and 2004).
To date, the HPAI strains that have been found in the United States have not been detected in humans; however, similar viruses have infected humans in other countries. While the risk of human infection is very low, people in direct contact with known infected or possibly infected birds should take precautions to protect against infection. This includes wearing appropriate protective equipment when exposures could occur and maintaining good hygiene. These recommendations can be reviewed at: http://www.cdc. gov/flu/avianflu/h5/worker-protectionppe.htm.