Live poultry sales have been banned in West Virginia as a precaution related to the avian influenza (AI) outbreak that has affected much of the United States, according to West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick. The commissioner also said live poultry exhibitions and swap meets have also been banned in the state that so far has had no confirmed cases of avian influenza.
“There has been no sign of AI in this state, but we believe this ban is a necessary precaution to protect our valuable poultry industries,” said Helmick.
West Virginia’s broiler industry is centered in the Eastern Panhandle, near the Pilgrim’s Pride processing plant in Moorefield. The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) tests every commercial flock for avian influenza before they are moved for processing, ensuring that sick birds are not being trucked past other poultry farms in the region.
“We have the staff and equipment to turn samples around within four hours, which is something the industry really appreciates,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Jewell Plumley. Any presumptive positive tests must be confirmed by the USDA, she added.
The WVDA has also worked to identify and educate “backyard” poultry owners about the signs of AI and biosecurity practices to prevent it from entering their flocks.
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