LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – After a spike in a chicken disease called infectious coryza, poultry farmers are being asked to take extra precautions.
Lancaster County is being hit especially hard, with many farmers seeing a drop in egg production and some chicken deaths.
“Our poultry industry is huge. It’s very important to our economy,” said Shannon Powers, press secretary for the state Department of Agriculture. “We don’t want to endanger that industry by allowing disease to spread.”
Coryza can have chickens showing symptoms similar to avian influenza.
“They’re congested. They sneeze. Chickens sneeze. They have swollen faces around their eyes,” Powers said.
It hits too close to Jay Lehman’s 70,000 chickens at his farm in Manheim Township.
“We get daily or weekly reminders when a new case comes up,” Lehman said. “The map of the coryza is, it’s very much around this Rapho Township, Manheim and branches out.”
With more than 30 cases in the area, he’s stepped up precautions on his farm, including using rubber boots and sanitizing solution, as well as putting up stop signs to prevent people from getting close to the chicken coop.
“We have them up as part of our bio-security plan,” Lehman said. “If you ever see one of the signs, do what it says: stop.”
“The way that this kind of bacterial disease is typically spread is in migrating birds when they pass over,” Powers said. “They either interact directly with the birds or their droppings.”
That’s why the Department of Agriculture is asking poultry owners to keep their chickens inside as much as possible.
“From the economic scale, it’s probably just on the individual producer that has lost production for him. I don’t think that we’ll ever see prices going up in the store because of coryza,” Lehman said.
The disease isn’t contagious to humans. Cooked eggs and meat from chickens are safe to eat.
If you see any of these symptoms in your chickens, you’re asked to call your state or private veterinarian or the U.S. Department of Agriculture.