BALTIMORE (AP) — Agriculture officials and poultry farmers in Maryland are taking extra precautions against avian influenza after outbreaks devastated flocks in other states.
The Baltimore Sun (http://bsun.md/1CEe8A3 ) reports the Maryland Department of Agriculture has banned the entry of waterfowl in fairs and shows in the state, stepped up testing requirements for poultry and met with emergency-management officials to prepare in case of an outbreak.
No cases of the avian flu have been reported in Maryland. But state officials are reaching out to commercial farmers in the state’s $1 billion poultry industry and the growing number of backyard chicken enthusiasts.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has confirmed cases of highly pathogenic avian flu in 21 states since December. The disease spreads through the animals’ saliva, feces and nasal secretions. The USDA reported this month that the outbreak in the Midwest has boosted egg and roasting turkey prices, but chicken prices are down since other countries are restricting poultry imports.