Breaking News
More () »

Avian flu on the rise in southeastern Pennsylvania, state officials amp up response

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and other state officials emphasize biosecurity on poultry farms.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Two commercial flocks in southeastern Pennsylvania received a positive result for avian flu, the U.S Department of Agriculture reported on Monday. One of those flocks was right here in Lancaster county.

Since the beginning of 2023, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture told FOX43 that 27 commercial flocks, 18 backyard flocks and more than 4.5 million birds were affected across the Commonwealth.

State officials said the best way to strategize an offensive toward this flu is to create a stronger defense.

The department recently issued what is called a "sell-down" order to the state's 12 live bird markets that sell live poultry for use and consumption. 

This means these farms must sell, process or kill their remaining birds in three days. 

Officials said they also want to emphasis "biosecurity." They want poultry farmers to use "safe and clean solutions" to stop the spread of avian flu. 

This includes having less visitors on the farms, cleaning equipment and clothing more regularly and always reporting sick birds.

For farmers to know when their birds are sick, the Department of Agriculture said to check for these symptoms:

  • Sudden death without clinical signs
  • Lack of energy and appetite
  • Decreased egg production or soft-shelled or misshapen eggs
  • Swelling of head, comb, eyelid, wattles and hocks
  • Purple discoloration of wattles, comb and legs
  • Nasal discharge, coughing and sneezing
  • Incoordination
  • Diarrhea

Grant Gulibon, a regulatory affairs specialist at the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, said that emphasizing biosecurity measures and remaining vigilant of the flock is the best strategy to protect the poultry industry.

"The way that we're going to beat this s by keeping those plans robust and by making sure we're not moving material that could cause avian influenza from farm to farm, from place to place," said Gulibon.

Experts also said that people pose no risk of catching the virus.

But they may feel the virus in their pockets. Poultry is a $7.1 billion industry, and it has taken a hit with decreased egg production.

However, officials offered a sign of hope.

Warmer weather in the next couple of months usually slows down the virus from spreading, and officials said this may bring some relief to flocks and grocery store aisles.

Download the FOX43 app here.  

Before You Leave, Check This Out