Millard Provides Update on PA’s Avian Influenza Planning, Response Efforts
6/22/2015
HARRISBURG – Working to safeguard the state’s $13 billion poultry industry, state officials have been working since February to put response and recovery plans in place in the event of an highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak (HPAI), said Rep. David Millard (R-Berwick).

The disease, which has no known impact to human health, has been found in 20 other states, including Michigan, the newest state to be impacted by the virus. Nearly 50 million birds have been killed by HPAI to date. The United States has the strongest avian influenza (AI) surveillance program in the world.

Officials want to reassure residents that the food supply remains safe.

Those working in the poultry industry are encouraged to take steps now to protect themselves and their flocks from this potentially devastating disease. To help prevent the disease, poultry and egg growers and producers should implement biosecurity measures on their operations now.

Beginning this past December, two versions of avian influenza Type-A virus strains have emerged – the highly pathogenic H5N2, which is responsible for over 95 percent of the infections associated with the present outbreak in the country, and the highly pathogenic H5N8.

This disease has been moving west to east mainly through migratory birds from the Pacific to the Central flyway to the Mississippi flyway. The Atlantic flyway, which intersects with the Mississippi flyway and overlies Pennsylvania, has not yet shown birds with the virus.

State agriculture officials and industry members have been working since February to prepare for the possibility of HPAI entering Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture in partnership with PennAg Industries, academia and other industry leaders has convened an HPAI Task Force, which holds weekly conference calls to discuss preparedness plans. Part of the planning includes steps for depopulation and biosecurity measures, as well as an increase in the state’s surveillance and monitoring efforts.

Additionally, department officials announced a ban on avian shows at the state’s 109 state-sponsored 2015 fairs and the 2016 Farm Show. The task force has also convened several tabletop exercises to walk through various response and recovery scenarios if an outbreak were to occur in Pennsylvania. Briefings are also being provided to other state agency partners as well as the executive branch to discuss their roles in the event of an outbreak.

For more information about avian influenza, visit agriculture.state.pa.us and click on the “avian influenza” banner.

Representative David Millard
109th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Morgan Wagner
(717) 260-6281
mwagner@pahousegop.com
RepMillard.comFacebook.com/RepMillard
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