State agriculture employees work at FVSU for avian flu training

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FORT VALLEY, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) –  Georgia Department of Agriculture employees were in Fort Valley on Wednesday learning the best method to combat avian flu. 

The disease hit several states across the country. 

Chances are you don’t expect to see HAZMAT suits when dealing with chickens. 

"Our main concern there is bio-security. We don’t want to move this disease anywhere that it’s not already located," Daniel Duncan, the livestock and poultry program manager for the state department of agriculture says. 

Organizers say it’s necessary. 

"If it comes to having to go out and respond, we’ll have full respirators and two pairs of booties, a vortex suit, and two pairs of gloves," George Hill, one of the participants, says. 

As avian flu infects birds in states including Minnesota and Iowa, department of agriculture employees are taking proactive steps to prevent it from spreading here in the state. 

"We’re trying to educate and train as many people within the department as possible to be able to respond if we do have that incident tomorrow," Duncan says. 

According for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) — or avian flu — naturally affects wild aquatic birds and domestic poultry including chickens, ducks, and turkeys. 

It’s a contagious disease that spreads through the birds’ saliva, nasal secretion, and feces. 

One case can wipe out an entire flock. 

It isn’t commonly spread to humans — but there have been cases where people have gotten pneumonia or even died. 

"To keep from spreading the influenza, avian flu, it’s just a precaution to not spread it to other areas," Hill says. 

State employees are using a type of foam — the same firefighters use to put out fires — to address the problem. 

"It’s euthanizing the bird in the way of actually suffocation," Duncan says. 

Participants say it’s the most humane way possible to deal with the issue and are making sure everyone is prepared if the disease hit the peach state. 

"Georgia is one of the most prepared states in the southeast if not the country for a disease such as this," Duncan says. 

The Georgia Department of Agriculture says the state’s poultry industry brings in $4.6 billion. An avian flu outbreak could significantly affect those numbers.  

To be clear, Georgia has not had a case of avian flu and the training exercise was merely a precautionary measure to prepare. 

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(478) 745-4141 ext. 311 Skyler joined the 41 NBC News Team in April 2013. He anchors the news at 6 p.m. and also covers stories going on throughout the day. He was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Stone Mountain, Georgia, a suburb right outside of Atlanta. Before heading to Middle Georgia, Skyler worked as a stage manager for WSB- TV in Atlanta. Skyler graduated from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia in 2011 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Multimedia Communication. He went to school initially to be an architect, but one step inside of the student radio station changed everything. While at Georgia Southern, he was exposed to radio and television and became the Program Director of the student radio station and was a part of a team that received a Southeast Regional student Emmy for their work on the program "Inside Georgia Southern Football." Skyler anchored and reported for Georgia Southern University's "Eagle News." There he covered the 2010 midterm elections live as well as reported on stories in the community. In the Spring 2012, Skyler interned for Clear Channel in Los Angeles, California. Skyler is a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. In his free time, you can find Skyler watching the latest movies and reading up on all things in Hollywood. He also loves spending time with his family and friends and finding inspirational quotes. He loves telling stories about politics, tax dollars at work in the community, and highlighting people and business who don’t normally get the spotlight. If you have any story ideas, email Skyler at shenry@41nbc.com.