The Delaware Department of Agriculture on Feb. 23 stated that testing confirmed that cases of avian flu were discovered in a Delaware chicken flock.
“We have taken immediate action to contain this disease and will continue to work with poultry owners, the industry, and our laboratory partners to protect against its spread,” Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse told local media.
“This appears to be an isolated case, with no reports of disease among our chicken industry. Delmarva poultry is safe to eat, and consumers can be confident in the safety of their food.”
The farm involved in the outbreak is under quarantine to stop the spread of avian influenza, identified as H5N1 in local media. It’s the first time the strain of bird flu has been detected in Delaware since 2004.
“Avian influenza is an airborne respiratory virus that spreads easily among chickens through nasal and eye secretions, as well as manure,” according to the statement from the Delaware Department of Agriculture. “The virus can be spread in various ways from flock to flock, including by wild birds, through contact with infected poultry, by equipment, and on the clothing and shoes of caretakers.”
Several ducks and a hawk in Delaware “were harvested by hunters and submitted to” the U.S. Department of Agriculture for sampling, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control stated in a news release.
“These findings were not unexpected, as wild birds can be infected with [highly pathogenic avian influenza] but show no signs of illness,” the department stated.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the risk to the general public from the bird flu is low.
“No human infections with Eurasian H5 viruses have occurred in the United States,” according to the Delaware health agency. “As a reminder, the proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F will kill bacteria and viruses.”
Cases of pathogenic avian influenza strain H5 220.127.116.11 were also found in several Florida bird species this week, according to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The virus was found in a lesser scaup, black vultures, and other species.
Officials called on the public to “avoid handling sick or dead wildlife, prohibit the contact of domestic birds with wild birds,” and report any wild bird deaths to the Florida Wildlife Commission for investigation.
Avian flu has been reported in flocks of birds in other states in the past several weeks, including in New York, Kentucky, Indiana, Maine, and Virginia.