Poultry farm precautions increase as avian flu spreads

Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 6:28 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Avian flu in the valley is considered deadly to poultry everywhere. The disease spread to a second farm on Jan. 24.

There are 180 farms in the control area which surround the infected farms, according to the Virginia Poultry Federation, and it is important for farmers to stop the spread.

Farmer David Hughes says part of biosecurity being heightened includes visitation being cut off to help stop the spread.

“It really really quarantines and isolates them, but that’s what you have to do to make sure it’s not being transmitted around. It can be carried on people, shoes, car tires, we don’t have many flies right now, but it can be carried by flies in the warmer weather,” Hughes said.

Hughes has three flocks at Rivermont Farm and the biosecurity procedures have been increased for everything. He, like others in the poultry business, is taking this seriously for his livelihood.

“That could devastate me because I only do three flocks a year or so, so if one of them gets wiped out, you know that’s a third of my income.”

There is enhanced surveillance to be sure it has not spread to other birds. Poultry that tested positive are euthanized to keep from infecting everyone else.

It has a domino effect on getting production done — affecting supply companies, propane delivery, feed delivery, young chick deliveries, and shavings.

“We started off, spraying off every vehicle that comes on the farm, like the feed trucks and propane delivery, and anyone else that has to come on. We limit visitors, so no one comes on even our service tech who’s around like a veterinarian, he doesn’t even come around anymore. We need supplies? It’s dropped off at my house across the road.”

Avian flu cannot spread to humans from eating poultry or eggs that are properly cooked. The A.I. Condition in the valley is highly pathogenic, which is lethal for flocks.

“It can wipe them out. They have to euthanize the ones so they don’t spread and so that’s the only way right now because there is no vaccine for it,” Hughes said.

Swab tests and blood samples are taken from the poultry in the control area every day. Extra precautions are taken for anyone who has to be on a poultry farm.

Anyone who doesn’t have to be on the farm is recommended to stay away