Delaware Public Media

Avian Flu

Katie Peikes / Delaware Public Media

Two Sussex County men have developed an on-the-go method to quickly test chickens for bird flu, which could help protect Delmarva’s $3.2 billion poultry industry. 



Currently, every flock of chickens is randomly sampled for bird flu before it is processed. Growers can also have testing done if they suspect bird flu is present on their farm. 


Courtesy of USDA

Delaware poultry farmers are on alert after a recent outbreak of bird flu devastated a Tennessee farm.



More than 73,000 birds on a southern Tennessee farm that supplies chickens for Tyson Foods were killed after federal officials identified a case of deadly bird flu in the flock. 

File photo courtesy of USDA.

The Delmarva Peninsula lies under the Atlantic Migratory flyway, a path waterfowl migrate through. As Europe deals with recent outbreaks of a severe strain of Avian Influenza, some local poultry growers worry that just one infected bird passing through the region could contaminate and kill whole flocks of chickens.


That’s why poultry growers across Delmarva take precautions to avoid the possibility of the virus traveling from outside of the farm to the respiratory systems of their chickens. And research is being done that could help farmers better understand waterfowl patterns so they can prepare for when the virus surfaces.


Annie Ropeik/Delaware Public Media

Delaware's annual agriculture week kicked off Monday with a focus on the Delmarva Peninsula's biggest industry: poultry.

Hundreds of farmers, vendors, regulators and experts flocked to the state fairgrounds for updates on issues like the H5N1 avian flu. There hasn't been a case in the U.S. since last spring's devastating Midwest outbreak -- but experts said farmers still need to be wary.

Stephen Walling/Wikimedia Commons


The current H5N2 avian flu outbreak that began in December has hit 21 states across the country. Though the virus has not touched the Delmarva region, where an estimated 100 million broilers are now being raised, voices from Delaware contributed to Wednesday’s conversation in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Michael Palmer/Wikimedia Commons


Due to concerns about avian flu, the Department of Agriculture will not allow waterfowl to enter poultry competitions at the Delaware State Fair next month.

Waterfowl, which are ducks and geese, may not show symptoms of avian flu - even if they have contracted it, says Bob Moore, the state’s animal inspection supervisor.

Stephen Walling/Wikimedia Commons

The avian flu has wreaked havoc in many poultry farms across the country. Cases of the H5N2 virus have been found in 16 states, in the West, Midwest and the Mississippi flyway.

While no cases of avian flu have been reported in Delaware, Dan Shortridge, spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture, said that Delaware is well-prepared to respond.