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Bird Health Awareness Week, Feb. 21-27; Poultry Owners Urged to Reassess Biosecurity Practices

Photo by Edwin Remsberg

Photo by Edwin Remsberg

ANNAPOLIS, MD (Feb. 22, 2016) –  Bird Health Awareness Week is Feb. 21-27, and the Maryland Department of Agriculture encourages all bird owners to use the week to assess and strengthen their biosecurity practices and prepare for a possible outbreak of High Path Avian Influenza (HPAI) this spring. HPAI – also called bird flu – entered the United States late in 2014 and lead to the eventual death of nearly 50 million birds in the Midwest last year. To date, it has been the most expensive agriculture disaster in U.S. history.

“The game is not over yet. We must remain vigilant until the birds migrate back north,” said Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “We will be at the highest risk of getting the bird flu in Maryland this spring. If all flock owners practice strict biosecurity we will be in the best position to handle an outbreak.”

The department has a webpage dedicated to Avian (bird) Flu with a lot of information about biosecurity and checklists that can help farmers, large and small, reduce the risk. The department also has a bird flu blog and bird flu twitter feed @MdBirdFlu that will be used if a case of bird flu is detected in the state.

The University of Maryland Extension has also recently released three short videos:

  • “Preventing Outbreaks of Avian Influenza through Science-Based Education of Commercial Poultry Farmers
  • “Preventing Outbreaks of Avian Influenza through Science-Based Education of Backyard Poultry Producers.”
  • Preventing Outbreaks of Avian Influenza through Science-Based Education of Technical Service Personnel.”

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has many resources to help flock review their practices, not just those related to keeping out bird flu but also to help maintain the overall health of their flocks.

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