Apr. 27, 2022

Much-needed emergency assistance advanced through committee
HARRISBURG – As Lancaster County continues to grapple with an ongoing avian flu crisis, the Pennsylvania House is advancing legislation to provide emergency funding to fight back and provide much-needed assistance to those directly impacted.

“Agriculture is the lifeblood of our economy in Lancaster County,” Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) said. “The avian flu has the potential to shut down an industry that employs people across the county and provides food for people throughout the eastern part of the country. We cannot waste any time in taking action to help this industry, and I want to thank the committee for its swift action.”

House Bill 2553, authored by Rep. Mindy Fee (R-Lancaster), provides $2 million in additional funds, and broad authority, to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture for response and preparedness related to the avian flu.

In remarks to the committee this morning, Fee said, “For the sake of the farmers, their employees and consumers we must take every precaution and action necessary to protect our ag-based economy.”

“Multiple farms in Lancaster County have already experienced positive cases, and there may be more as we battle this highly contagious pathogen,” Cuter added. “It’s why I worked to designate funds in previous state budgets specifically for bird flu response, and why this additional funding is so crucial now.”

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) does not impact humans. 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.

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
100th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Mike Straub
RepCutler.com / Facebook.com/RepBryanCutler