Apr. 06, 2022

Avian influenza identified in Crawford County
HARRISBURG – Rep. Parke Wentling (Crawford/Erie/Lawrence/Mercer) is urging backyard chicken owners to protect their flocks and exercise precautions after the National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa, confirmed a redhead duck, found March 25 along state game lands in Crawford County, died from the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI H5N1).

“We must do everything we can to protect Pennsylvania’s multi-billion-dollar commercial poultry industry and minimize the harmful impacts of this terrible disease,” said Wentling. “If contracted, depopulation is the only solution because there is no cure.”

HPAI, a dangerous transmissible disease that migratory birds can carry and spread to backyard and commercial poultry, was identified in neighboring Venango County and verified by NVSL on March 29. Since early February, HPAI cases among commercial poultry have been reported in 24 states, some of which border Pennsylvania.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is safe to eat poultry and eggs when they are properly handled and thoroughly cooked. The CDC said 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.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA), HPAI is transmitted through contact with fecal matter from wild birds, infected birds, contaminated equipment, and contaminated boots and clothing. The symptoms of avian influenza include unexplained sudden death; swelling of the head; purple discoloration of comb and wattles; sudden drop of feed and water consumption; and lethargy and depression.

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.

Editor’s Note: Information on protection measures and available resources is here.

Representative Parke Wentling
17th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Nate Temple