Maryland and Delaware today jointly announced the detection of HPAI (highly pathogenic avian influenza) in chickens on two Delmarva farms, including one broiler farm.
Federal laboratory testing has confirmed the two cases -- a pullet operation in New Castle County, Del., and a broiler farm in Queen Anne's County, Md. Following an investigation by the Delaware and Maryland Departments of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratory confirmed poultry from these farms tested positive for highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza.
This is the first time avian influenza has been detected in a Delmarva broiler farm since 2004. Two earlier cases of HPAI detected in Delmarva poultry flocks in recent weeks involved layers, not broilers. State officials have quarantined all affected premises, and birds on the properties are being or have been depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease.
"While Delmarva's chicken community has worked hard to prevent avian influenza from affecting their flocks and was able to keep the 2015 U.S. HPAI outbreak from impacting us, the ease with which this disease can spread from bird to bird means HPAI poses a significant risk to broiler chickens," said Holly Porter, DCA's executive director. "Delmarva Chicken Association and the chicken industry is working closely with USDA and state authorities as they quarantine, depopulate, disinfect and test these affected farms. These chickens will not enter the food system, and properly cooked chicken remains completely safe to eat."
"Considering these new cases and the prevalence of the virus in the wild bird population, all poultry owners need to increase their vigilance in protecting their flocks from contracting avian influenza," the Delaware-Maryland Avian Influenza Joint Information Center said in a statement.
For chicken growers, protecting flocks from disease is a year-round effort, and the main focus is to prevent people from inadvertently bringing wild bird droppings contaminated with the virus into chicken houses on shoes, clothes or equipment. Additionally, chicken growers have taken precautions to prevent wild birds or rodents from gaining access inside their chicken houses. DCA issued additional advisories about HPAI to its members beginning in late 2021, when wildlife scientists shared findings that the virus was more prevalent in wild waterfowl than in past years.
DCA has provided biosecurity tips and best practices to its members in coordination with state departments of agriculture and the USDA's Defend the Flock program, and is holding virtual meetings to better inform chicken growers about the recent HPAI detections and what steps are taken on a farm when avian influenza is found.
Commercial poultry producers should follow the procedures of contacting the company they grow for when they notice signs of disease.
Backyard flock owners who notice any of the signs of HPAI in their flock should contact:
About Delmarva Chicken Association
Delmarva Chicken Association, founded in 1948, is the Delmarva chicken industry's voice as the premier membership association focusing on advocacy, education and member relations. DCA's vision is to be the most-respected chicken organization in the United States. For more information about the Delmarva Chicken Association, visit www.dcachicken.com or call 302-856-9037.