On July 29, 2015, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding addressed the current state of planning for a potential avian influenza outbreak within Pennsylvania.
Secretary Redding stated that Governor Tom Wolfe has allocated $3.5 million to the department to continue planning response operations should an outbreak occur. Although there have been no outbreaks within the state as of yet, Secretary Redding expressed concern about the possibility of infection arriving within the state during the fall as wild bird migration begins.
Secretary Redding also emphasized the importance of quick responses to contain the virus and limit the amount of damage caused. Currently approximately 50 million birds have been depopulated as a result of avian influenza.
During the outbreak of 1983 and 1984, Pennsylvania’s economy was impacted by $65 million dollars. Currently, the state’s poultry industry is valued at roughly $13 billion. To protect the industry, the department has established a task force, conducted exercises to plan for various scenarios, met with multiple agencies to discuss needs in the face of an outbreak as well as biosecurity measures, suspended all avian shows within the state for 2015 and at the 2016 Pennsylvania Farm Show, and issued a quarantine measure within the state that requires a 72-hour testing requirement for any entering poultry.
Secretary Redding also urged farmers to begin thinking about how to manage their flocks in the event of infection, and to consider how to handle lost production time in the event of depopulations. The department is currently focused on planning and response, but acknowledges that recovery in the face of an outbreak could take months or years.
For more information on avian influenza updates within the state, click here. For information on the national level, click here.
Written by Tyler R. Etter- Research Assistant
July 30, 2015