CAMBRIDGE, Md.- Since December of last year, poultry farmers nationwide have been facing the reality of the avian flu. It's had a stranglehold over flocks nationwide.
According to the USDA, the virus has been detected as far east as Indiana. So far, 28 million birds, not just limited to chickens, have been affected by the disease. The last detection was back in June, but as the temperature drops, the virus becomes more active. To make matters worse, this fall migratory birds will begin passing over Delmarva, possibly introducing the virus to the peninsula.
With the potential for avian flu on the horizon, Delmarva's poultry farmers are getting ready. Chickens are considered by many to be the lifeblood of Delmarva. Many farm families can put food on the table from these flocks. So the potential for an entire flock to be wiped out has some farmers cautious.
"It's one of the worst diseases that we as chicken growers face. f it hits this industry, it could be devastating," said chicken grower Terry Rayfield.
"Chicken growers naturally are concerned because if the virus comes to their farm, they will have a lot of financial hardship," said Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. Executive Director Bill Satterfield. "They will be without birds for up to three months during the depopulation, cleaning, and disinfecting and monitoring times. Neighboring farms could be affected as well."
Delmarva Poultry Industry Incorporated said the virus can be transmitted to the chickens many ways, some that you may not even think of.
"It's likely introduction will be through wild flying birds. But there could be people to people transmission of the virus. People to equipment, equipment going to multiple farms, those are the kind of things poultry farmers need to be aware of," said Satterfield.
So farmers are taking many steps. Not just the sign in sheets, but also disinfectant foot baths and more.
"Everybody has to be suited up before they can go in the chicken house, completely from head to toe. We have trash cans down there for them to throw their clothes away so they are not carrying it anywhere else," said Rayfield.
It will be difficult, but with any luck, the farmers on Delmarva will be able to keep their flocks healthy.
More information can be found here.