Delmarva Poultry Farmers React to Imminent Bird Flu Threat - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delmarva Poultry Farmers React to Imminent Bird Flu Threat

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(Photo: MGN) (Photo: MGN)

GEORGETOWN, Del. -- A dire warning coming from Maryland's Department of Agriculture says the avian flu will most likely hit Delmarva by the fall.

Maryland's state veterinarian says this strain of the avian flu is causing 90 percent of infected birds to die within 5 days, a deadlier outcome than the last time avian flu hit the peninsula in 2004.

Forty-eight million birds have died or had to be destroyed as the disease spread from west to east in the past year.

Bill Satterfield, President of Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc., says they've been preparing for the worst.

"It could be a game changer for the chicken industry," said Satterfield. "It has the potential, if it spreads to quickly, to decimate this chicken industry and the economy of the Delmarva peninsula."

The avian flu reaching Delmarva poses a significant threat to the area's poultry industry and the economy.

"If this highly pathogenic avian flu virus was found in commercial chickens , it would change the way the industry operates. And it would require quarantines on positive farms, virus positive farms, it would require quarantines on adjacent neighboring farms," said Satterfield.  

Satterfield says the company is preparing signs to give farmers warning the public to stay out of chicken houses to prevent the spread of disease.

That's exactly how Arthur Chicks has been operating since the 2004 outbreak.

"You got to keep people away from the farm and out of your chicken houses. If you bring a chicken out to show it to them, don't put it back in," said Chicks who's been a poultry farmer in Delaware for about 40 years. 

"You don't know where that person's been last. If they carry in something and you show them the chickens, the next thing you know you got chickens dying in there and you're wondering why," said Chicks.

So far the disease has spread as far as Indiana but the migratory path of wild birds carrying the disease could change everything. 

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