Apr. 16, 2022 / Press Release

HARRISBURG – Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed Pennsylvania joins more than two dozen states currently experiencing positive cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in commercial poultry populations. This highly contagious disease can impact migratory birds, backyard poultry and commercial poultry populations. HPAI was recently confirmed in several species of migratory birds located in the southeastern and northwestern regions of Pennsylvania.

“The avian flu is an imminent threat to our state’s poultry farmers and our economy,” Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) said. “I know firsthand what is at stake, which is why I’ve consistently worked to protect the avian flu funding in recent state budgets. At a time when inflation is already having a serious impact on Pennsylvania’s consumers, we must make necessary investments to protect and support our poultry supply and the animal diagnostic laboratory system that is so critical to rapidly identifying suspect cases in the effort to mitigate losses.”

“In the 2015-16 state budget, we included additional support to monitor and prevent the spread of the highly pathogenic avian flu, which, at the time, was of immediate concern for the poultry industry and the agriculture community as a whole,” Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) said. “Because of this preventative action, Pennsylvania as a whole is better situated to handle this new outbreak.”

“The poultry industry has a long proud history and heavy presence in Lancaster County,” added Rep. Mindy Fee (R-Lancaster). “For the sake of the farmers, employees and consumers of our region, we must take every precaution and action necessary to protect our agricultural-based economy.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is safe to eat poultry and eggs when they are properly handled and thoroughly cooked. The CDC mentions that the proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit kills bacteria and viruses, including HPAI viruses. This means that over-easy and sunny side up eggs should be avoided. Also, people should not consume meat or eggs from poultry that are sick.

There is no cure for avian flu. Depopulation is the only solution.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA), the symptoms of avian influenza include:

· Unexplained sudden death.
· Swelling of head.
· Purple discoloration of comb and wattles.
· Sudden drop of feed and water consumption.
· Lethargy and depression.

HPAI is transmitted through contact with fecal matter from wild birds, infected birds, contaminated equipment, and contaminated boots and clothing.

In order to protect flocks from the disease, backyard chicken owners should:

· Keep poultry inside their coop to avoid contact with wild birds.
· Remove birdhouses and feeders used by wild birds.
· Wear dedicated footwear and clothing to work with birds.
· Wash hands before and after working with birds.
· Clean and disinfect equipment in contact with birds.
· Limit visitors to the premises.

Anyone who witnesses unexplained illness or death within their flock should contact PDA at 717-772-2852. Pennsylvanians can assist with HPAI surveillance efforts by reporting any sick or dead wild birds to the Game Commission by calling 610-926-3136 or emailing pgc-wildlifehealth@pa.gov. Any sick or dead domestic birds should be reported to PDA at 717-772-2852. Information for commercial producers is available at padls.agriculture.pa.gov/.

Speaker Bryan Cutler
Sen. Ryan Aument
Pennsylvania General Assembly

Cutler Media Contact: Mike Straub: 717-260-6397
Aument Media Contact: Stephanie Applegate: 717-787-4420