Two More Flocks To Be Destroyed
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) _ Avian flu appears not to have spread into Pennsylvania’s prime poultry country, but officials ordered the destruction of 71,500 chickens, bringing to 300,000 the number killed this year in the battle against the disease.
Avian flu, which is fatal to poultry but harmless to humans, was found in two flocks that had been quarantined for a week, state Agriculture Secretary Richard Grubb said Monday. The flocks included 50,000 broiler chickens near Winfield and 21,500 laying hens near Pitman, Grubb said.
The latest two outbreaks are not considered a significant spread of the disease since they occurred in an area where chickens have had to be destroyed, said Agriculture Department spokesman John Nikoloff.
The disease also has not turned up in the prime poultry area of Lancaster, Berks and Lebanon counties, Nikoloff said.
Officials suspected this year’s outbreak was caused by truckers hauling chickens and unsanitized crates between Pennsylvania and New York City, but the flu appears to be spreading within Snyder and Schuylkill counties by means other than trucks, he said.
″What method the virus is spreading by we really don’t know,″ he said. ″Right now, we only can go by past experience - it’s people, clothing, equipment. It can even travel on dust or on feathers and to some extent in the air. It’s a major concern.″
The flu also has been found in New Jersey and Massachussetts, said Eileen Fabian, poultry and livestock specialist for the Cornell University Cooperative Extension.
State technicians are trying to head off an outbreak like that in 1983-84, when 16 million chickens and turkeys in the state had to be killed.