Another Delaware poultry farm has identified the highly pathogenic avian influenza strain among their population, according to Delaware Department of Agriculture officials.
According to officials, a pullet operation in New Castle County identified the H5N1 strain following federal laboratory testing. Additionally, the strain was identified in a broiler flock in Queen Anne's County, Maryland.
It is the first time since 2004 that avian influenza was identified in an area broiler farm, officials with the Delmarva Chicken Association (DCA) said Wednesday. All affected premises have been quarantines, and birds are being or have been depopulated to prevent spread. Birds from affected flocks will not be distributed to the food system, officials said.
"While Delmarva's chicken community has worked hard to prevent avian influenza from affecting their flocks and was able to keep the 2015 U.S. HPAI outbreak from impacting us, the ease with which this disease can spread from bird to bird means HPAI poses a significant risk to broiler chickens," said DCA Executive Director Holly Porter. "Delmarva Chicken Association and the chicken industry is working closely with USDA and state authorities as they quarantine, depopulate, disinfect and test these affected farms. These chickens will not enter the food system, and properly cooked chicken remains completely safe to eat."
Following the identification of these cases, officials said they've "greatly expanded surveillance sampling and testing" to protect the Delmarva poultry industry.
With these new identified cases and "the prevalence of the virus in the wild bird population," officials are urging all poultry owners to increase vigilance in protecting their stock.
In Delaware, poultry producers who have sick birds or increased mortality among their flock should contact the Delaware Poultry Health Hotline at 302.698.4507.