Bird flu found in NY flock | Politics | auburnpub.com – The Citizen

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A flock of young turkeys stand in a barn at the Moline family turkey farm after the Mason, Iowa farm was restocked in 2015.
The state Department of Agriculture and Markets is urging poultry farmers to increase biosecurity protocols after a flock of eight birds on Long Island tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu. 
The birds were part of a small backyard flock in Suffolk County, according to the department. Samples from the flock were initially tested at Cornell University’s Animal Health Diagnostic Center. The bird flu cases were confirmed at the USDA’s lab in Ames, Iowa. 
Following the positive tests, the state Department of Agriculture and Markets is working with the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to respond to the incident. The Suffolk County property has been quarantined and the remaining birds will be removed to prevent the spread of the avian flu. 
The birds will not enter the food system, according to the department.
“Avian influenza outbreaks can spread quickly,” said state Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball. “We will continue to do all we can at the department to safeguard the state’s flocks and encourage everyone who keeps poultry to be vigilant about minimizing their birds’ exposure to the virus and to wild bird populations. Our poultry industry is a significant part of the state’s agricultural industry and these biosecurity steps are our best line of defense against the disease.” 
New York joins at least 11 other states that have reported bird flu cases. Wild birds have tested positive for avian flu in Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The disease has been detected in commercial flocks in Indiana and Kentucky. 
The state Department of Agriculture and Markets has contacted poultry and eggs farms to encourage them to implement safeguards against the bird flu. The best practices include keeping out unnecessary visitors and to prevent employees and visitors who own fowl from entering the premises. All visitors should cover and disinfect their footwear and all entrances to chicken houses should be locked at night.
If farms find sick or dead birds, they should report it to the department by calling (518) 457-3502 or contact the USDA at (866) 536-7593. 
Poultry farms should keep birds away from wild ducks and geese. Outdoor access for birds should be limited due to the presence of avian flu. 
There is concern that another bird flu outbreak could have a devastating impact on the poultry industry. In 2015, an outbreak killed 50 million chickens and turkeys in the U.S. 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that the recent bird flu cases “does not change the risk to the general public’s health, which CDC considers to be low.” But the agency added that certain groups, including poultry workers, could be exposed to the disease. 
Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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Online producer and politics reporter
I have been The Citizen’s online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I’m the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at auburnpub.com.
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A flock of young turkeys stand in a barn at the Moline family turkey farm after the Mason, Iowa farm was restocked in 2015.
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