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West Virginia lifts poultry gatherings ban

Ban was put in place in response to avian flu outbreak

By Diego Flammini,

Since May 2015, West Virginia put a ban on live poultry gatherings – a ban that after six months, is being lifted.

The Mountain State initiated the ban due to the outbreak of avian flu in the American Midwest. An outbreak that saw 21 states and 50 million birds affected by the illness before becoming the biggest animal health incident in the history of the United States.

Avian Flu

Though the ban has been lifted, agricultural officials in the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) are encouraging poultry producers to be diligent when examining possible health concerns to the animal.

“We are still urging all poultry producers to be on high alert for signs of avian influenza in their flocks, whether they have commercial poultry houses or just a small backyard flock,” said Commissioner Helmick. “The WVDA continues to monitor the animal disease situation at the national and international level on a daily basis and this ban could be imposed again at any time.”

West Virginia was not directly impacted by the outbreak, but the state’s most valuable agricultural sector is commercial poultry, estimated at $355 million by the United States Department of Agriculture.

The WVDA tests each commercial flock before they are moved and has the tools to have the results returned quickly.

“We have the staff and equipment to turn samples around within four hours, which is something the industry really appreciates,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Jewell Plumley.

The WVDA has released some biosecurity tips to help prevent the introduction or spreading of avian influenza:

  • Minimize farm visitors; avian flu can remain on tires, footwear and even in nasal passages
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect shoes, clothes, hands and tires before entering production areas; using disinfectant isn’t enough
  • Don’t share farm equipment during avian flu outbreaks
  • Look for symptoms (unusual bird deaths, sneezing, nasal discharge, diarrhea, poor appetite, drop in egg production, purple discoloration of wattles, comb and legs)

Join the conversation and tell us your thoughts about West Virginia lifting the ban on live poultry gatherings.

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