Avian Flu flies across Pennsylvania

Thousands of birds all across Pennsylvania are dying of the ever-present Avian Flu that has sprung up this past spring.

Photo by the CDC.

Thousands of birds all across Pennsylvania are dying of the ever-present Avian Flu that has sprung up this past spring.

Jayden Burnside, Editor

Avian Influenza (Avian Flu) is a dastardly virus that affects birds and poultry animals. Central Pennsylvania thought it was rid of the Avian Flu up until recently when many local farms have confirmed cases of the virus, quickly turning into an outbreak.

The Avian Flu is the bird counterpart to Influenza which infects humans. Birds and poultry animals have similar symptoms to humans who have Influenza, such as a runny nose and lack of energy/appetite. 

The outbreak all started when a dead bald eagle was found with the virus in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania March 25, 2022. The eagle was the first case of the Avian Flu that was discovered since the virus was first found in America in December 2021. At this point, the virus surged to local poultry farms and businesses.

“We are in a moment today where we are trying to contain this virus so that it does not spread. We’re monitoring real-time to make sure it’s not spreading, and if it is, if it does, we’ll have to take immediate action,” said Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.

 At this point, the virus has surged into local poultry farms and businesses. Kreider Farms in Lancaster County is one such location, as it was the first poultry farm to indicate signs of the virus in early March. From here, the virus spread to six neighboring farms in Lancaster county. 

“Kreider Farms, along with state and USDA officials, has been working round the clock to reduce the risk of further spread of the Avian Influenza. The loss of birds at this site represents 15% of our egg layers,” said Tom Beachler, vice president of operations at Kreider Farms.

In total over the last few months, over 18,000 birds have died as a result of the Avian Flu. While the disease is deadly to birds, humans do not have much to fear. The virus spreads rapidly among birds, but it has a hard time contracting to humans. Even if someone were to catch the virus, it would most likely only be mild symptoms, if the person was to experience symptoms at all. Many human cases of the virus do not show symptoms so people have nothing to fear from a health standpoint. 

Even still, the virus has impacted the sales of many poultry ingredients like eggs and meat. Said ingredients are expected to rise in price due to how few healthy birds there are left. For a bird to be classified as healthy and produce healthy products, it must go through strict protocols.

“For them to move poultry or poultry products outside of that zone or any movement involving that area requires that they test twice, so once at 48 hours before movement, then again at 24 hours before movement,” said Dr. Alex Hamburg, assistant state veterinarian.

For now, though, businesses like Kreider Farms must follow the guidelines to keep their birds healthy. Another pandemic is the last thing people would want.