Pa. suspends avian competitions to avoid bird flu outbreak

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The state Department of Agriculture is suspending avian competitions to avoid an outbreak of bird flu in Pennsylvania.

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced Monday that the department suspended all avian competitions at state-approved agricultural fairs in 2015, as well as the 2016 Pennsylvania Farm Show, because of the highly pathogenic avian influenza, or H5N2.

“This is not a decision we made lightly, but it is one that we feel is necessary given the threat,” Redding said in a statement. “Across the country, 145 flocks have tested positive for this disease. This strain has killed or forced producers to euthanize 15 million birds. The effect has been devastating, and we do not want to see the same kind of impact here in Pennsylvania.”

The disease is very contagious and can make domesticated birds very sick or even cause death.

Since December, the USDA has confirmed cases of H5N2 in the Pacific, Central and Mississippi migratory bird paths.

No highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses have been detected in Pennsylvania since an outbreak in 1983 and 1984, when Pennsylvania lost 17 million birds worth $65 million.

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