ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Maryland Dept. of Agriculture (MDA) reported no signs of avian influenza (AI) after a flock of chickens was suspected of being infected with the disease in early December. Additional testing since then only confirmed cases of a bacterial disease in the flock, but no evidence of AI.

During the week of Dec. 10, a poultry farm in Wicomico County, Maryland culled chickens after screening for AI by animal health officials yielded inconclusive results. According to the Salisbury Daliy Times, 40,000 chickens were put down on a farm near Powellville.

The Delmarva Poultry Industry (DPI) confirmed in a press release that the farm was experiencing higher than normal mortality rates and submitted samples to the MDA for testing.

DPI explained that the birds were diagnosed with a common bacterial disease and treated, but “out of an abundance of caution, the decision was made to depopulate the birds on this farm.”  

After the initial reports, additional testing from the US Dept. of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Service Laboratory confirmed negative test results for the flock. Screening of nearby farms were also negative. 

“We are all relieved by the negative test result, and I am proud of the rapid and collaborative response to this event,” said Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Joe Bartenfelder. “This has demonstrated that our department is prepared to work with federal, state and industry partners to protect the chicken industry, which is a vital part of Delmarva’s economy.”