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Harrisburg, PA – Despite few highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) reports in early 2016, Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding reminds poultry producers of the need to remain vigilant and practice good biosecurity measures.

Having sound biosecurity protections in place are among the best preventative measures producers can take to protect the state’s $13 billion poultry industry, he said.

Redding acknowledged that so far there are not any cases of HPAI in the commonwealth, but said vigilance is still a prime concern.

“While we have been spared the devastation of this virus to date, we realize the threat of the HPAI virus remains real,” said Redding. “With the weather getting warmer, our risks of being affected decreases, but that does not mean that we should halt our efforts to safeguard our state. We have a responsibility to our industry and our residents. Poultry producers – and those in the allied industries – should always ensure they make good biosecurity practices part of their daily routine to protect our poultry industry.”

Redding said anyone who owns or works with poultry, whether on a commercial farm or at a hobby farm, should follow best biosecurity practices such as:

  • Keeping all areas around your flocks clean,
  • Ensuring new birds added to a flock are free of any signs of disease,
  • Observing flocks for warning signs of infectious bird diseases, and
  • Reporting signs of sick birds immediately.

In addition, all premises throughout the state with livestock or poultry are encouraged to complete the premise identification registration through the department’s Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services. A premise ID helps to protect producers by enabling officials to communicate with animal owners of species that may be susceptible or at risk of infection.

To register a farm, complete the form online at Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, by clicking on “Premises Registration Form” under the Avian Influenza section, or call 717.772.2852.

Redding also addressed the ongoing ban of poultry at local fairs, which was put into place in May 2015. He said the department continues to monitor the situation nationally and assess the risks to Pennsylvania poultry industry, while consulting with the veterinarians and federal partners. That assessment will guide the department’s decision on whether to lift the suspension for the 2016 state-approved agricultural fairs and the 2017 Pennsylvania Farm Show.

For more information about highly pathogenic avian influenza in Pennsylvania, visit Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, and click on “Avian Influenza.”