New York officials are taking steps to help protect the state’s poultry industry from what is being called the worst outbreak of the avian flu in U.S. history. New York State agencies have gotten together to hold an emergency planning meeting, to make sure they are prepared in the event of the Midwestern outbreak reaching the state.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that 10% of chickens in the U.S. have died from the virus, along with 6% of the live turkeys kept in captivity. Since the outbreak began, some 48 million birds have been affected. Thus far, the flu has affected multiple states in the Midwest, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska.
New York’s poultry industry is worth around $150 billion, and includes an inventory of around 7.5 million birds. To protect the spreading of the virus, multiple New York agencies have taken steps to protect their livestock. This includes banning poultry exhibits for the 2015 New York State Fair, as well as any county fairs.
Additionally, any poultry that is being transported into the state must be in a flock that has had at least 30 birds tested for the flu, or have been certified as clean under the National Poultry Improvement Plan.
The Department of Agriculture and Markets presented the agencies with several scenarios that could occur if the virus makes its way into the state. The agencies discussed the different aspects of response, including their public awareness approach, to come up with a plan they can put into action in the case of avian flu is detected in a local flock.
While New York State Health Commissioner Dr Howard Zucker says that there is no need to worry about the virus spreading into the public, he also warns that residents should be sure to practice good hygiene, as an average 5 to 20% of Americans come down with the flu each year. He also warns to make sure any food items from the poultry industry are properly cooked before consumed.