The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture confirmed the state’s first case of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza over the weekend. The highly contagious flu was found in a flock of commercial chickens in East Donegal Township, Lancaster County.
The infected farm and all commercial poultry facilities within a 10-kilometer radius are quarantined and the state and federal task force is initiating a response plan.
There is no immediate public health concern for Pennsylvanians, according to the CDC. No human cases of avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States.
Eggs and Poultry are still safe to eat if cooked properly, however, HPAI is spread easily and can be deadly to geese, ducks, chickens, and other birds.
Due to the outbreak, tens of millions of birds have already died across the country, including many that were slaughtered. Officials are calling this the worst outbreak of avian flu since 2015.
Consumers most likely already noticed an evident direct effect of the avian flu, which is the rising price of eggs. According to market researchers, they cost nearly three times as much as they did last year.
Lancaster County’s new case is the state’s first since the early 1980s. However, the outbreak has spread across at least 27 states to date, including most states surrounding Pennsylvania.
“Protecting Pennsylvania’s $7.1 billion poultry industry is a year-round top priority,” said PA Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “We have strict biosecurity protocols in place both for Pennsylvania farms, and for poultry products shi[[ed in and out of the state. We have had $2 million budgeted and set aside since 2016 to respond to avian influenza, in addition to equipment, supplies, laboratories, and highly trained experts who have been on high alert and are supporting our poultry farmers.”
Birds spread the virus through their droppings and nasal discharge. It can also be spread through contaminated equipment, clothing, boots, and vehicles carrying supplies, according to experts.