CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt is sending a reminder to West Virginia’s poultry farmers — both commercial and “backyard” — to step up biosecurity practices and to watch for any signs of sickness in their birds following the discovery of high pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI) at a farm in Lincoln County, Tennessee.
“Poultry is West Virginia’s largest agricultural sector, providing more than $320 million in receipts in 2015,” said Leonhardt. “While we’ve seen no sign of AI here, and it doesn’t pose a serious risk to human health or the food supply, it is important that we work together to protect this vital industry.”
Poor biosecurity has been linked to the spread of disease in past outbreaks.
Recommended biosecurity practices
- Limit visitation. Keep farm visitors to an absolute minimum, and keep records of those who do visit in case authorities need to trace a disease outbreak. AI can survive on vehicle tires, footwear and even in the nasal passages of humans.
- Clean and disinfect shoes, clothes, hands and vehicle tires before entering production areas and park as far away as practical. Clean all visible dirt and then apply disinfectant.
- Disposable boots and coveralls are advisable for visitors. Don’t share equipment with other farms.
- Avoid live bird sales or other places where fowl are co-mingled. Prevent contact among wild birds and domestic fowl.
- Report diseases. Immediately report any signs of disease (unusual bird deaths, sneezing, nasal discharge, diarrhea, poor appetite, drop in egg production, etc.) to the WVDA at 304-538-2397. If after business hours, call 304-558-2214, or the USDA at 1-866-536-7593.
This is the only confirmed case of HPAI in the U.S. so far this year. In 2015, a multi-state AI outbreak affected 48 million birds on 223 farms in the West and Midwest and became the largest animal health emergency in U.S. history.
West Virginia previously dealt with AI in 2002 and 2007. WVDA tests every commercial flock before they are moved from the farm for any reason.