WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. (DC News Now) — A positive case of avian flu, a highly contagious virus that can spread among birds, was confirmed in Washington County. Poultry farmers are taking the necessary steps to keep their flocks healthy.

“It is a highly contagious disease and poultry, and it causes sickness and mortality and moves to poultry flocks very quickly,” Veterinarian with Maryland Department of Agriculture Dr. Michael Obian explained.

When avian flu is detected on a farm, the process of quarantining and euthanizing must begin.

“Maintaining biosecurity, making sure no products leave the farm,” Dr. Obian said. “We’re monitoring the disposal of the carcasses and making sure it’s done properly and under the USDA guidelines, so the public does not have to worry.”

According to the Washington County Farmers Bureau, avian flu can have a significant financial impact on the farm.

“It’s pretty devastating to a farmer because farmers raise chickens on cycles and so the way a chicken farmer gets paid and by the number of flocks that they raised a year and so if a flock gets hit by avian flu that’s a direct hit to that farmer,” Executive Director John Torres explained.

The farm bureau recommends that even backyard farmers or those with just a few chickens reach out to the state department of agriculture in order to protect their animals as well.

“Coming into contact with wild birds, any ducks, geese, or other birds flying in the backyard can spread that virus,” Torres said. “So, you want to make sure you take certain precautions to protect those birds coming into contact with wild animals that might be carrying that disease.”

With the confirmed case of avian flu, farmers should minimize visitation to make sure the virus doesn’t spread to nearby properties.