The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced a temporary quarantine order Thursday banning the exhibition of poultry and eggs at county and local fairs in Pennsylvania.
The ban takes effect Saturday and will last for 60 days or until the department rescinds the order. The move is being made to support the state’s poultry industry from the threat of highly pathogenic avian influenza.
“Pennsylvania’s agricultural fairs are important educational events for our youth,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said in a news release. “But the risk to our poultry farmers and our economy outweighs the benefit of displaying poultry at fairs when avian influenza is an imminent threat. The very real experience of weighing risks against benefits is also a tremendously important part of an agricultural education.”
The temporary ban prohibits the presence and display of poultry and poultry products, including eggs, feathers and other parts and items made of these parts. The ban applies to the 108 county and local fairs that receive state funding under the Pennsylvania Agricultural Fair Act.
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The Department of Agriculture said the state has not had a confirmed case of highly pathogenic avian influenza in commercial or backyard poultry since an outbreak in 1983-84. As of Tuesday, infected birds in commercial and backyard poultry flocks had been confirmed in 26 states including most states surrounding Pennsylvania.
USDA’s website includes a complete listing of confirmed domestic poultry infections as well as those in wild birds. Genetic analysis of samples taken in other US states has shown that the virus is being spread by infected wild birds.
Domestic poultry, including chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, guinea fowl, quail, pheasants, emus and ostriches are most susceptible to avian influenza, the Department of Agriculture said. Highly pathogenic avian influenza is highly contagious and often fatal to birds.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these avian influenza detections do not present an immediate public health concern. No human cases of avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States. Poultry products and eggs are safe to consume if stored and cooked at proper temperatures.
In 2015, following a multistate outbreak of the disease, primarily in the Midwest, the USDA reported losses and response costs of approximately $1 billion.
Pennsylvania’s three animal health laboratories analyzed nearly 200,000 samples for avian influenza last year. The laboratories, which make up the Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System, have the capacity to test many more samples.
The department of Agriculture said wild birds carry the virus and do not respect property or state lines. Though they may not appear sick, they spread the virus in their droppings and anywhere they land. Anyone visiting a farm should be aware that their vehicles and shoes may carry the virus from other places they have walked.
If you have domestic birds, report sick domestic birds or unusual deaths in your flock 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture at 717-772-2852 or email RAfirstname.lastname@example.org.
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