State imposes limits to protect against avian flu

April 13, 2002|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

To protect Maryland's multimillion-dollar poultry industry from disease, the state agriculture secretary imposed strict limits yesterday on where farmers may obtain birds.

The order prohibits turkeys or chickens in states under quarantine for avian influenza from entering Maryland. It also bans farmers from buying birds at auctions, fairs or other venues at which poultry from multiple locations or sources is sold.

While not a threat to humans, avian influenza can quickly devastate poultry flocks. A 1993 outbreak in Queen Anne's County resulted in tens of thousands of birds being destroyed to contain the disease.

"It is much better to prevent the disease from occurring than to try to eradicate it," said Agriculture Secretary Hagner R. Mister.

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