Bird flu findings in Virginia keep poultry farmers on high alert

ROCKY MOUNT, Va. (WFXR) – Poultry farms are on high alert after recent bird flu findings in Northern Virginia and several neighboring states, including North Carolina and South Carolina.

According to a business site, Virginia’s poultry industry contributes $12 billion to the Commonwealth economy and employs more than 53,000 people.

This deadly version of bird flu could also hurt consumers’ wallets. Farmers say it could double the price of chicken and eggs.

Some small farmers say they aren’t too worried about it, but it could affect prices.

Janice Walke, owner of a Stone Soup Farm poultry farm in Rocky Mount, said: ‘If flocks of chickens are killed because they are considered dangerous, even if they are laying birds, that also affects egg supply. So that means those 99 cent eggs you get at the grocery store, you might not be able to get them anymore.

Experts say this virus is carried by migrating birds but can spread to others, which is why the Virginia Cooperative Extension encourages all Commonwealth farmers to practice biosecurity.

WFXR News’ Amanda Lee spoke with Agriculture Natural Resources Officer for Virginia Cooperative Extension Shawn Jadrnicek.

“It’s really important for all owners of flocks, poultry, chickens, ducks, turkeys, anyone who has birds in their home to keep those birds indoors,” Jadrnicek said.

Jadrnicek says some symptoms of bird flu include reduced food intake, reduced egg production, swelling, sneezing, coughing and runny nose.

If you notice any of these symptoms, you are urged to report it immediately to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 804-786-2483.

“Any bird owner or anyone who has contact with birds should be very concerned and follow good biosecurity measures to prevent the further spread of this disease,” Jadrnicek said.

To prevent this, he also recommends not allowing your birds access to ponds and wetlands and using designated equipment and clothing when handling them.

Jadrnicek says there is no increased public health risk, just the potential for price increases at area supermarkets and grocery stores.

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