No Signs of Bird Flu in Delaware So Far This Fall - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

No Signs of Bird Flu in Delaware So Far This Fall

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - So far, so good. Fears bird flu could be attacking Delmarva's poultry industry this fall have not come to pass, at least not yet.

Earlier this year there were real concerns an outbreak of bird flu in the Midwest would find its way to Delmarva by the fall. Maryland's agriculture secretary said over the summer there was every reason to believe it would be here by now.

There have been no reports of the disease on the peninsula. In fact, the USDA lists no reports of avian flu anywhere in America since mid-June.

"What's happened so far is we've been pretty lucky," said Dan Shortridge, a spokesman for the Delaware Department of Agriculture.

But the thing about luck is it can always run out.

"You've got wild birds mixing and mingling up in the Arctic," Shortridge said. "When they come down through fall and through the winter, there's the possibility of one of them bringing avian influenza to anywhere in the US, anywhere on the East Coast, anywhere in Delaware."

Agriculture officials nationwide have been taking extreme precautions, preparing for an outbreak. And just because things have been quiet recently doesn't mean they're backing off.

Shortridge says there's really no way to build a figurative wall to stop avian flu from getting into Delaware or anywhere else on Delmarva. So, the goal is to be prepared to respond if it does.

"We are fully prepared and definitely still on alert. This is one of the top concerns for the agriculture industry in Delaware, one of our top issues and top priorities," said Shortridge.

Even though bird flu isn't currently affecting any poultry flocks, the impact of the outbreak earlier this year is still being felt. There are concerns nationwide about the turkey supply with Thanksgiving approaching.

Tons of Thanksgiving supplies sit on pallets at the Food Bank of Delaware Milford Branch. The food bank statewide puts together 2,500 meal boxes for the holiday.

About half the turkey are bought well in advance, so there's no problem there. The other half will come in through donations starting next week.

"We obviously don't know what will come in through Turkey Round Up and those things. So, we may feel the impact there. But that remains to be seen," said Chad Robinson, director of the Milford branch.

The avian flu outbreak earlier this year led to about 50 million birds dying or being destroyed.

The most heavily affected states were Iowa (31 million birds) and Minnesota (9 million).

The US is split into four flyways for migratory birds. The disease showed up in the Pacific, Central and Mississippi Flyways. The USDA has no reports of it in the Atlantic Flyway, which includes Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.

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