UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In response to the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza in several Eastern and Midwestern states, Penn State Extension is offering a bulk pricing discount on an online course — “Farm Biosecurity Best Practices for Contractors, Vendors and Visitors” — aimed at keeping farms safe from disease.
The virus that causes highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI, can be transmitted by waterfowl and other wild birds as they migrate. Infected wild birds may show no signs of illness, but the disease is devastating to domestic flocks, killing most poultry that become infected. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there has been one detection of HPAI in Pennsylvania as of March 30 — in a wild bald eagle found deceased in Chester County.
The pathogen also can spread from farm to farm via contaminated vehicles, equipment and clothing. Although there have been no detections reported in domestic poultry flocks in Pennsylvania to date, this year’s HPAI outbreaks have prompted urgent calls from Penn State poultry experts for flock owners — and others who may come into proximity to flocks — to step up their biosecurity practices. At risk is Pennsylvania’s $7.1 billion poultry industry, the state’s second largest agricultural sector.
The online extension course is designed for anyone who visits farms, such as contractors, vendors and other visitors. Instructors will teach general biosecurity best practices and etiquette for keeping farms, animals and people safe and productive.
Participants will learn to:
— Recognize the importance of biosecurity.
— Identify the types of farm animal diseases and how they are spread.
— Implement biosecurity best practices to minimize the risk of introducing and spreading disease.
— Understand the importance of proper farm etiquette.
— Follow etiquette rules for arriving, working on and leaving a farm.
The asynchronous course is self-paced and takes about 2.5 hours to complete. According to organizers, the course contains videos, short readings and knowledge check questions to help participants approach farm biosecurity with confidence. Participants will earn a certificate of completion upon passing a final quiz.
The course registration fee is $59, but discounts are available with bulk registration. For example, a company registering 75 employees will receive a 10% discount and pay $53 for each registrant. The discount increases as the number of registrants increases. The highest discount of 50% is offered with a bulk registration of 1,000 registrants.
Participants will gain access to course material for 365 days. More information is available on the Penn State Extension website at https://extension.psu.edu/
–Alexandra McLaughlin, Penn State University