September 13, 2022

Ministry of Agriculture orders temporary ban on poultry and egg shows to protect poultry industry from bird flu

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – To further protect Pennsylvania’s $7.1 billion poultry industry from the threat of highly pathogenic avian influenza, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today announced a temporary quarantine order prohibiting exposure of poultry and eggs at county and local fairs in Pennsylvania. The ban takes effect on Saturday, April 16 and will last for 60 days or until the ministry rescinds the order.

The temporary ban prohibits the presence and display of poultry and poultry products, including eggs, feathers and other parts and items made from these parts. The ban applies to the 108 county and local fairs that receive state funding under the Pennsylvania Agricultural Fair Act.

“Pennsylvania agricultural fairs are important educational events for our young people,” Redding said. “But the risk to our poultry farmers and our economy outweighs the benefits of displaying poultry at fairs when bird flu is an imminent threat. The very real experience of weighing the risks against the benefits is also a extremely 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. As of April 12, 2022, infected birds in commercial and backyard poultry flocks have been confirmed in 26 states, including most states surrounding Pennsylvania. The USDA website includes a full list of confirmed infections in domestic poultry as well as those in wild birds. Genetic analysis of samples taken from other US states has shown that the virus is spread by infected wild birds.

Domestic poultry, including chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, guinea fowl, quail, pheasants, emus and ostriches are most susceptible to bird flu. Highly pathogenic avian influenza is highly contagious and often fatal to birds.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these bird flu detections do not present an immediate public health concern. No human cases of the bird flu virus have been detected in the United States. Poultry products and eggs are safe to eat if stored and cooked at appropriate temperatures.

In 2015, following an outbreak of HPAI in several states, 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 egg and poultry sales.

Protecting Pennsylvania’s $7.1 billion poultry industry is a top year-round priority for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and our partners in the poultry industry, government and academia. Pennsylvania has strict biosecurity protocols in place for Pennsylvania farms and for poultry products transported in and out of state, and the USDA has strict import requirements for shipments international. Pennsylvania and industry and government officials nationwide have strengthened preparedness and prevention efforts since 2015, and Pennsylvania’s response plan is evaluated and updated regularly.

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

Other agencies, including the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, Departments of Agriculture, Health, General Services, and Environmental Protection, State Police, Gambling Commission, the Air National Guard, Veterinary Services and Wildlife Services of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service are on alert, have reviewed the response plan and will implement it if infections are confirmed in domestic state herds.

Pennsylvania’s three animal health labs tested nearly 200,000 samples for bird flu last year. The labs, which make up the Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System, have the ability to test many other samples.

Wild birds carry the virus and do not respect property or state lines. Although they don’t seem sick, they spread the virus in their feces and wherever they land. Anyone visiting a farm should be aware that your vehicles and shoes can carry the virus from other places you have walked. Clean them thoroughly and stay away from chicken coops unless you have to be there. If you have backyard chickens – pets or birds raised for show – keep them indoors and protect them from contamination by wild birds or their droppings.

If you have pet birds, report sick pet birds or unusual deaths in your flock 24/7 to the PA Ministry of Agriculture at 717-772-2852 or email email to [email protected]

Details of the quarantine order can be found in the PA Bulletin.

More information on protecting domestic birds from avian flu can be found at agriculture.pa.gov or the USDA’s Defend the Flock program.

MEDIA CONTACT: Shannon Powers – 717.603.2056, [email protected]

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