UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Infectious and vector-borne animal and plant diseases, vaccination issues surrounding COVID-19, and the spread of the invasive spotted lanternfly will take center stage in displays and presentations at the College of Agricultural Sciences Exhibits Building and Theatre during Penn State’s Ag Progress Days, Aug. 10-12.
Penn State Extension educators and College of Agricultural Sciences faculty will address these issues with a series of displays and presentations during the three-day event:
• Vector-borne diseases. This display will cover the most common vector-borne diseases in Pennsylvania, including Lyme disease and anaplasmosis. Penn State specialists will provide information on recognizing vectors and ways to protect yourself, your family, your pets and your livestock from vector bites and vector-borne diseases.
• Avian influenza. Penn State poultry experts will describe the current avian flu outbreak in Europe; explain how wild migratory birds serve as reservoirs for avian flu and how their migratory routes can facilitate spread of the virus into commercial and backyard poultry flocks; and emphasize the need for strong biosecurity, which is the best defense against this devastating disease. Information also will be available about poultry respiratory diseases and the link between human Salmonellosis and poultry.
• Spotted lanternfly. Visitors can speak with Penn State spotted lanternfly experts, learn how to identify the various life stages of the insect, and find out how they can help contain and manage lanternfly infestations. Residents going to Ag Progress Days from any of Pennsylvania’s 34 counties under the spotted lanternfly quarantine should inspect their vehicles before traveling to be sure they aren’t transporting any life stage of the pest, which is known to be an adept hitchhiker. More information about the spotted lanternfly is available on the Penn State Extension website.
• Extension Collaboration on Immunization Teaching and Engagement (EXCITE). Vaccines can protect you and your community from disease, and this display will provide information about adult vaccinations, including the COVID-19 vaccine. Penn State Extension educators will be available to answer questions about vaccine safety and effectiveness. Visitors can share their thoughts, concerns and perspectives on vaccines to foster an understanding of the challenges of vaccination in Pennsylvania communities.
• Swine health. Pig enthusiasts and pig farmers both play critical roles in protecting the state and national swine herds from diseases dangerous to pigs. In particular, the global spread of African swine fever reminds pig producers to remain vigilant. Ag Progress Days visitors can learn more about African swine fever and what farmers can do to keep their pigs healthy.
• Plants get sick too: Plant pandemics impact human and animal health. Over the last year and a half, we all have learned that pandemics are a threat to human health. Plants get diseases too, and fungi, bacteria, viruses and other plant pathogens are often as serious or greater threats to human and animal health than pathogens that directly infect people and animals. Plant pathologists will discuss plant disease threats to food security and crop production.
In addition, representatives from the College of Agricultural Sciences’ Office of Undergraduate Education will be on hand at the College Exhibits Building to provide prospective students and their families information about careers and the college’s programs in animal, biomedical, environmental, plant and social sciences.
Sponsored by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, Ag Progress Days is held at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs, 9 miles southwest of State College on Route 45. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 10; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 11; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 12. Admission and parking are free.
For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days website. Twitter users can find and share information about the event by using the hashtag #agprogressdays, and the event also can be found on Facebook (@AgProgressDays).
–Chuck Gill, Penn State University