Ag department places quarantine on poultry and egg exhibits due to Avian Influenza

Cris Collingwood//April 14, 2022

Ag department places quarantine on poultry and egg exhibits due to Avian Influenza

Cris Collingwood//April 14, 2022

A temporary quarantine order banning poultry and egg exhibitions for 60 days or until the order is rescinded will take effect Saturday across Pennsylvania. 

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding PHOTO/PROVIDED

Agricultural Secretary Russell Redding said the quarantine is to protect Pennsylvania’s $7.1 billion poultry industry from the threat of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza. 

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, he said. 

 “Pennsylvania’s agricultural fairs are important educational events for our youth,” Redding said. “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.” 

 Pennsylvania has not had a confirmed case of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in commercial or backyard poultry since an outbreak in 1983-84, he said. As of April 12, 2022, infected birds in commercial and backyard poultry flocks had been confirmed in 26 states including most states surrounding Pennsylvania. 

 The 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 U.S. 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, Redding said. Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza is highly contagious and often fatal to birds. 

 According to the U.S. 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  multi-state outbreak of HPAI , primarily in the Midwest, the USDA reported losses and response costs of approximately $1 billion. 

 A 2021 study of the economic impact of Pennsylvania agriculture found that Pennsylvania’s poultry industry contributes $7.1 billion to the state’s economy and supports 26,600 jobs. The state’s organic poultry sector leads the nation in sales of both eggs and poultry. 

Protecting Pennsylvania’s poultry industry is a year-round top priority for the PA Department of Agriculture and its partners across the poultry industry and in government and academia, Redding said.  

Pennsylvania has strict biosecurity protocols in place both for Pennsylvania farms, and for poultry products transported in and out of state, and the USDA has strict importation requirements for international shipments.  

Pennsylvania and nationwide industry and government officials have strengthened preparedness and prevention efforts since 2015, and Pennsylvania’s response plan is assessed and updated regularly, the agriculture department said. 

Poultry producers have biosecurity plans on file with the agriculture department and are constantly reminded to follow plans and keep them up to date, the department said. The department has reviewed procedures, inventoried supplies and protective equipment, and has held monthly meetings with poultry producers, veterinarians, USDA officials and other stakeholders monthly, escalating to bi-monthly in February 2022. 

 Other agencies, including 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, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Veterinary Services and Wildlife Services are on alert, have reviewed the response plan and will carry it out if infections are confirmed in domestic flocks in the state, the department saidquaraq. 

 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.