NJ DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE ADOPTS SENSIBLE AND MEASURED PRECAUTIONS TO PROTECT AGAINST AVIAN BIRD FLU

The New Jersey State Board of Agriculture has adopted amendments to the state’s livestock and poultry importation rule designed to help protect the state’s poultry industry and its consumers from the introduction of the highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza (HPAI) currently affecting states in the West and Midwest.

The emergency rule amendments are effective immediately for 60 days.  The rules further regulate the conditions under which poultry and hatching eggs originating from states affected by the outbreak of high pathogenic avian influenza may be imported into New Jersey.

“New Jersey is currently free of HPAI and we want to keep it that way,” said Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher. “Reinforcing the existing rules under which poultry enter New Jersey will help us protect the health of the state’s entire poultry industry, including commercial and backyard flocks.”

The disease was initially detected in Washington State and since January has spread eastward into 20 additional states. Cases have been reported in Arkansas, California, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza is an extremely infectious and fatal form of the disease, affecting all types of birds which, once established, can spread quickly from flock to flock.  To date, 211 commercial premises and 21 backyard flocks across the country have been confirmed for HPAI. Commercial poultry scheduled to be or already depopulated include 7.5 million turkeys and approximately 42 million layer chickens and pullets.

This avian influenza strain is deadly to birds but poses no immediate public health concern for humans and the Centers for Disease Control currently states the human health risk from these viruses is low.

The changes to the importation rule prohibit importation of poultry or hatching eggs from a state, territory or country where Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza has been detected into New Jersey live bird markets, unless a permit is obtained from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and the poultry are proven to be free from avian influenza within 72 hours of entry into the state. 

The changes also prohibit importation of any poultry or hatching eggs from anywhere outside of New Jersey unless they are accompanied by document showing they originated and are moving directly from an Avian Influenza-negative flock. 

People wishing to view the emergency rule amendments can find them atwww.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/ah/pdf/HPAIemergencyrule.pdf.

To report sick or dead birds, contact the NJDA Division of Animal Health at (609) 671-6400 or email to state.veterinarian@ag.state.nj.us. More information about avian influenza is available at the NJDA web sitewww.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/ah/diseases/avian_influenza.html.