State ag of­fi­cials warn about avian flu

Record Observer - - OBITUARIES -

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.

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