Maryland Poultry Farmers Prepare for Avian Influenza - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Maryland Poultry Farmers Prepare for Avian Influenza

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(Photo:WBOC) (Photo:WBOC)

CAMBRIDGE, Md.-  Delmarva has dealt with bird flu in the past.  Those were different strains.  In the words of the Maryland Department of Agriculture, this strain could be catastrophic and potentially 95 percent lethal to poultry.  It poses no threat to humans, but if avian influenza is found on a farm on Delmarva, it could cause serious problems, so biosecurity is tight.  Before visiting Maple Breeze Farms near Preston, we had to sign in and suit up.

"We basically want to create a perimeter where we know people and equipment.  Those are the two big things that bring any type of contagious disease into a confined poultry operation like we are," said Bill Brown, owner of Maple Breeze.

The Browns have upped their biosecurity procedures to make sure the outside world doesn't make its way into the chicken houses.

"It's very infectious.  The amazing thing to me is that avian influenza can be destroyed with soap and water, and certainly with disinfectants.  Phenolic acids and quaternary ammonias, things like that.  Even ultraviolet rays from the sun can destroy this virus," said Brown.

These protocols aren't just in use on one farm.  Other growers, like the Kings at Cornerstone Farms in Hurlock, are very thorough with their biosecurity.

"We use farm dedicated footwear and clothing," Terri King said.  "So when I come down to the chicken house, I'm going to change my boots, put on coveralls and a hairnet, and when I leave, I leave all that at the chicken house.  We're also using disinfectants for our boots, and disinfectant wipes, even for my cell phone when we leave the chicken house."

All this seems like a lot of work, but that's because there's no vaccine for this strain of bird flu.  The only means of prevention is bio security.  But even after the threat of bird flu has passed, the Kings and the Browns think these policies should stay.

"I'm hoping that the threat of avian influenza goes away soon, but I think the changes we've made in upping our biosecurity game should stay continually," said King.

Making sure that no other diseases make it into Delmarva's chicken houses.

For more information about avian influenza, click here.

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