Deadly Bird Flu Hits First Upstate New York Farm, Entire Flock Euthanized
The deadly Avian Flu has hit the first farm in Upstate New York, wiping out an entire flock.
The Bird Flu that is sweeping the country has hit the Marsala Family Farm in Hilton, New York, located in Monroe County. "The HPAI is spread from migratory birds flying above and their droppings falling into people's flocks," said Bob Marsala. "It only takes a dime-sized particle to kill an entire flock."
Marsala noticed something wrong with his chickens after letting them out early one morning. By the afternoon, 6 were dead. "I thought I'd let them out too early and they had an attack."
Another 7 died Saturday morning, 40 were dead by Sunday, and 70 more by Monday. After doing some research online and weighing the odds of an animal attack versus a disease, the family started making calls. "We knew something wasn't right," said Marsala.
The birds were infected with the highly pathogenic H5N1 version of the Avian Flu.
"The only way it could have gotten onto the premises is from migratory birds overhead which we do have a few of. All of our pens that are covered the birds didn't get sick."
Federal and state officials euthanize the entire flock of 400 birds on the Marsala Farm, even the ones that tested negative. "I don't necessarily agree with this but I understand where they are coming from," Marsala said. "It is deadly and we were told there was no other option. This is a tough punch for us for a small farm."
Warning for Farm Owners
Marsala documented how the Avian Flu affected his flock and the deadly results in the heartbreaking and sometimes hard-to-watch video at the top of the page, hoping to prevent the same thing from happening on other farms. "There's nothing left," Marsala said after government officials were finished.
"4 years' worth of work and it's all gone. Please tell anyone you know with chickens, ducks, geese, quail, pheasants, and turkey to cover their runs."
Farm owners from around the country have offered to help the Marsala family get back on their feet while many others are thankful for the Marsala's strength in documenting the heartbreaking journey to educate others.
Avian Flu Hits Several NY Farms
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has confirmed cases of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in several states including New York.
6 farms in New York have been hit, beginning in February with just a few backyard chickens on county farms near New York City. 4,000 had to be euthanized on a Commercial Game Producer in Suffolk County on March 23. The Marsala Farm is the first in Upstate/Finger Lakes region to be affected.
Prevent Avian Flu
The USDA has tips on how to prevent the deadly virus from destroying entire flocks.
• Keep an eye out for unusual signs of behavior, severe illness, and/or sudden deaths.
• Restrict access to your property and poultry.
• Keep it clean. Wear clean clothes, scrub boots/shoes with disinfectant, and wash hands thoroughly before and after contact with your flock.
• Anyone who has been on other farms, or other places where there is livestock and/or poultry, needs to clean and disinfect their vehicle tires and equipment before returning home.
• Don’t share equipment, tools, or other supplies with other livestock or poultry owners.
• Bird owners should prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, making sure wild birds cannot access domestic poultry feed and water sources.
Unusual poultry bird deaths or sick birds should be reported to the USDA by calling 866-536-7593.