- Associated Press - Monday, June 1, 2015

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - Ohio egg farmers are taking extra steps to protect their flocks from the avian flu, which has led to 40 million dead birds in the United States.

The Dayton Daily News reports (https://bit.ly/1I1tfL0 ) farmers are going to extremes to protect their birds in Darke County, the second-largest egg producing county in the country.

Vehicles going into egg and poultry farms are sprayed with disinfectant and workers’ shoes are hosed down. Officials are also monitoring backyard flocks for signs of the virus.

“This avian influenza is a whole new level because it just wipes out everything and will put producers out of business for about six months. Just the ripple down effect of an outbreak if we lost half the layers in the state of Ohio would have a billion dollar effect on our economy,” said Sam Custer, an Ohio State extension Agriculture and Natural Resource Educator.

Agriculture officials said the flu caused egg prices to double in two weeks.

An outbreak in one part of the state will impact Ohio as a whole, said Jim Chakeres, executive vice president of the Ohio Poultry Association.

“If the western part of the state is hit, the eastern part of the state cannot export product,” Chakeres said. “We are doing everything humanly possible to prevent this from coming in.”

Custer says it’s not a question of “if,” but “when” the virus will affect Ohio farms.

Officials have said the virus does not present a food safety threat, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said the virus poses little risk to human health.

The avian flu is believed to have been spread by migrating fowl, like geese and ducks, which carry the virus but do not get sick.

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Information from: Dayton Daily News, https://www.daytondailynews.com

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