Orders Farmers Quarantined to Clip Avian Flu
By Zenitha Prince
Capital News Service
Friday, Feb. 20, 2004
ANNAPOLIS - The Maryland Department of Agriculture quarantined state
poultry farmers Friday as a precaution to suppress the recent outbreak of
the avian flu in the Delmarva region.
While tests of Maryland birds have come up negative, department
spokeswoman Sue duPont said the restriction, which ends March 10, is an
added armor against contagion.
"We wanted to put some teeth into our earlier requests," duPont said.
As of Thursday, 508 poultry houses on 220 farms tested negative for the
Earlier this month, Maryland agriculture officials issued voluntary
restrictions in collaboration with Delaware's Department of Agriculture and
the Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc.
Workshops, meetings, live poultry markets and other activities were
canceled and disinfecting procedures implemented to prevent further
Most of Maryland's 1,100 farms willingly complied with the requirements,
duPont said, but in Delaware, not everyone was as obedient, prompting the
more stringent demands.
"We have reports that a few growers and clean-up personnel have not been
in compliance," said Anne Fitzgerald, chief of community relations in
Delaware's agriculture department.
Those farmers were spreading poultry manure on their fields in defiance
of the department's prohibitions, she said.
"This is the time of year when people are trying to get their crops out,"
The quarantine zone extends across areas south of the Pennsylvania state
line, west of the Delaware state line, east of the Susquehanna River and
north and east of Maryland Route 50.
Any farmer within the restricted area may not sell live poultry or
transport poultry or poultry manure without previous testing. They're also
prohibited from spreading manure on fields.
Violators could be fined up to $500 and face three months imprisonment
for a first offence, said duPont. A second offender could face a $1,000 fine
and a one-year jail term.
The department increased scrutiny of state poultry farms after the H7N2
strain of the virus, devastating to poultry but harmless to humans, was
found two weeks ago on two farms in Delaware's Sussex and Kent counties,
resulting in the slaughter of about 100,000 chickens.
It was the first incidence of avian flu in the commercial broiler
industry in the Delmarva region, said Bill Satterfield, executive director
of Delmarva Poultry Inc., an industry that accounted for 31 percent or $440
million of Maryland's $1.4 billion agriculture industry in 2002.
Department Secretary Lewis Riley urged farmers to remain vigilant and
vowed to take all necessary measures to protect the industry in a written
"We must ensure that everything that can be done is being done to protect
our state's leading agricultural industry and livelihood."
2004 University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of
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