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Delaware poultry producers encouraged to take precautions after avian flu found in black vultures

Black Vulture.jpg

Cases of avian flu continue to have poultry producers in Delaware on high alert.

The Delaware Department of Agriculture says federal laboratory testing done late last month on sick and dead black vultures found in Harford County, Maryland confirmed cases of the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu.

“And so with that, it is the first detection of wild birds in this area since February 17," said Delaware Ag Department chief of community relations Stacey Hofmann. "And the last one that we had was in Kent County, Delaware - a Canadian goose.”                                            

Hofmann She says even though the sick birds were found in Maryland - the number of birds killed by this high path avian flu is a concern because they do travel.

Delaware producers are encouraged to take precautions such as covering waste on their farms since black vultures do seek waste sites to land on.

“Poultry producers should be making sure that they cover the waste on their farms. Black vultures will travel up to 50 miles a day on thermals (a thermal column is a column of rising air in the lower altitudes of Earth's atmosphere - a form of atmospheric updraft) so it’s very easy for them to come and visit your farm even though they were found in Harford County (Maryland)," said Hofmann. "Secondly, remove standing water next to poultry houses; it’s just an invitation for wild birds to come and visit.” 

Hofmann says poultry producers should also secure all windows and doors on chicken houses so the black vultures can not get inside.

These latest avian flu cases in wild birds are the first in the area since February when it was found in a Canada Goose in Kent County, Delaware.

Hofmann says avian flu poses a low risk to the general public and does not affect poultry, meat or egg products since proper cooking will kill viruses or bacteria.

If you see sick or dead wild birds, do not handle or move them. Report any sick wild birds.

For assistance in Delaware, please visit DNREC's sick or dead wildlife reporting page or call 302-739-9912 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. After hours, weekends, and state holidays, leave a message at 302-735-3600, Ext. 2.