HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture confirmed on Saturday, April 16 that the state now has its first positive case of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in Lancaster County.

A release stated that the HPAI was found in a flock of commercial layer chickens on a Lancaster County poultry farm. A state and the federal interagency task force has been prepared and is in the process of initiating a response plan.

HPAI poses no risk to the public, and poultry and eggs are safe to eat if cooked properly. The disease is highly infectious and can be fatal to domestic birds such as chickens, ducks, geese, quail, pheasants, guinea fowl, and turkeys.

“Protecting Pennsylvania’s $7.1 billion poultry industry is a year-round top priority,” PA Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “We have strict biosecurity protocols in place both for Pennsylvania farms and for poultry products shipped in and out of the state. We have had $2 million budgeted and set aside since 2016 to respond to avian influenza, in addition to equipment, supplies, laboratories, and highly trained experts who have been on high alert and are supporting our poultry farmers.

“There is no immediate public health concern for Pennsylvanians, and we are prepared to respond to this agricultural issue. However, wild birds carry the virus and do not respect property or state lines,” he added. “Anyone visiting a farm should be aware that your vehicles and shoes may carry the virus from other places you have walked. Clean them thoroughly and stay away from poultry barns unless you have to be there. Please be vigilant and do your part to protect our farms.”

The positive samples were taken from a flock in East Donegal Township, Lancaster County, and were tested at the state’s veterinary lab. The finding was then confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Lab in Ames, Iowa.

The department has quarantined the farm and called commercial poultry facilities within a 6-mile, or 10-kilometer radius of the affected farm.

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If you suspect your poultry is infected with avian influenza, please report your concerns 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services at 717-772-2852, option 1.