On the Frontline with AI (Avian Influenza)
The College of Agriculture & Natural Resources Helping to Protect Delmarva Poultry in a Global Environment
- UD's Georgetown Lasher Lab plays a vital role in protecting the Delmarva Broiler Industry by quickly diagnosing H7N2 avain influenza on a chicken farm in Delaware.
- Since the outbreak, poultry scientists at the universities of Delaware and Maryland, the Delaware Department of Agriculture, the Delmarva Poultry Industry and USDA Veterinary Services have coordinated containing the virus.
- UD's Lasher Lab and Allen Lab (in Newark), work around the clock to test samples from all flocks in 6-mile quarantine zones around the 3 infected farms to make sure the virus has not spread.
- UD's Lasher and Allen Labs test all flocks exhibiting unusual mortality for avian influenza.
- During the avian flu outbreak, samples were taken 72 hours before broiler flocks went to processing. The UD's Lasher Lab sent the samples to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) for testing for avian influenza. No flock was released until lab tests showed the broilers were negative for influenza.
Avian Influenza Testing
3,457 Number of Farms
8,480 Number of Houses
212,000,000 Number of Broilers Represented
3 Positive Farms
8 Positive Houses
Currently the best way to stop the spread of avian flu after an outbreak is to euthanize the chickens. Composting the dead birds on site in the chicken houses further reduces the risk of spreading the virus. This is a new technique developed in a collaborative effort by the universities of Delaware and Maryland.
However, the best way to prevent avian influenza infections in local chicken flocks is by following recommended BIOSECURITY procedures, which prevent the disease from being introduced from outside sources such as live-bird markets in New York
and New Jersey.
Outbreaks of avian influenza can be costly to the poultry industry. In 1983, avian influenza in Pennsylvania cost the poultry industry more than $200 million. In 2002, in Virginia, another avian influenza outbreak reached 157 farms accross the state; the poultry industry estimated losses of more than $150 million.