Georgia takes steps to protect poultry from bird flu

The Georgia Department of Agriculture has taken steps to protect poultry flocks in the state from bird flu. BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

In an effort to minimize the risk of Avian Influenza entering Georgia poultry flocks, the state has temporarily suspended all poultry exhibitions, swaps and meets, shows or sales at festivals, flea markets or auctions in Georgia.

The suspension is in response to the recent confirmations of Avian Influenza, informally known as avian flu or bird flu, in Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky. The suspension prohibits the “concentration, collection, or assembly of poultry and poultry products of all types from one or more premises for purposes of sale, exhibition, show, swap or meet,” according to a statement issued by the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

“What we are trying to eliminate is the fairs, flea markets, shows – (where there would be) any co-mingling of birds,” said GDA spokesperson Julie McPeake.

The suspension does not restrict importation of poultry or poultry products, provided they meet Georgia import requirements. Nor does the suspension restrict out–of–state export of Georgia poultry and poultry products. The suspension also does not affect private sales of poultry and poultry products.

Poultry contributes $25.9 billion to Georgia’s economy and accounts for more than 100,000 jobs in the state.

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“Agriculture is big business in our state and poultry is our number one industry,” Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black said in a prepared statement. “It is imperative that we take every precaution necessary to prevent this economically devastating virus from entering our borders.”

The risk of a human becoming ill with avian influenza during poultry illness incidents is very low, according to the Georgia Department of Health.

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