Agriculture officials in North Carolina are now restricting poultry imports from any state where avian influenza (AI) has been found in recent outbreaks.
Three states, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey are reporting current outbreaks of AI in poultry flocks.
On Feb. 6, Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Michael Scuse reported the detection of H7N2 in his state, "which is among the most virulent types of the virus."
"Although this virus can be a serious threat to the Delmarva poultry industry, it is not the same strain that is affecting humans in Asia," Scuse said. "This particular virus has absolutely no human health risk, and Delmarva poultry is perfectly safe to eat."
None of the strains currently in the U.S. are known threats to human health. The strain that was discovered in Pennsylvania flocks, H2N2, is one that officials noted is one also of the less virulent strains for poultry.
AI has the potential to become an economically devastating outbreak in states where it is found. A Virginia outbreak of the disease in 2002 brought about the quarantine and euthanasia of nearly 5 million birds. That outbreak cost the Commonwealth an estimated $100 million.
The disease can be spread through nasal and eye secretions and through manure. It can also be spread by contact with contaminated clothing and equipment.
Since North Carolina's import ban, poultry from the states where AI has been found can only enter the Tarheel state if it has met "specific testing requirements." Tested poultry must be accompanied by documentation outlining the tests.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) urges all Virginia farmers "especially poultry growers" to observe strict bio-security on their farms. VDACS is also banning live poultry shows on the Eastern Shore.
West Virginia agriculture officials have also called for "extra caution" among poultry producers.
For more information about AI on the Internet, visit http://www.aphis.usda.gov/lpa/issues/ai_de/ai_de.html
For information on North Carolina's poultry ban of affected states, visit http://www.ncagr.com/paffairs/release/2004/2-04avianflu.htm.