PBC Animal Control warns of contagious disease found in animals - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

PBC Animal Control warns of contagious disease found in animals seized from Loxahatchee farms

Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control is warning people about a health threat to animals and potentially people as well.

Last month Animal Control participated in a multi-agency raid on three farms in Loxahatchee following an ongoing undercover investigation into animal abuse and illegal slaughter at all three.

More than 500 animals were seized during the raids. Now test results on those animals are being released.  

The tests results list a number of diseases found in the animals.  The most concerning, according to Animal Control, is a disease called mycoplasma gallisepticum, commonly called MG.

It's a respiratory disease that is very contagious in live animals; none more so than chickens and other birds. 

Following last month’s Loxahatchee farm raids Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control seized more than 300 chickens and other birds.

"You had filthy, deplorable, disgusting conditions," said Animal Control Director Dianne Sauve.

Sauve says the conditions created a perfect storm for bacteria and disease; most notably MG.

"It can wipe out entire flocks of chickens in the poultry industry," said Sauve. She also says once a bird has MG it's a carrier for life.

"If one tests positive you have to assume that they're all infected?" asked Contact 5 Investigator Jared Werksma. "That's right," said Sauve.

So when test results came back from Florida's Department of Agriculture showing MG Animal Control had few options.  

"As a result of that the chickens were all euthanized," said Sauve.

"So it's a big concern for the chicken industry?" asked Werksma. "Absolutely," Sauve replied.

Julie Campbell owns the Farmer’s Daughter, a free-range chicken farm just down the road from October's farm raids.

"I think everybody in this area had an idea what was going on out there," said Campbell.

Campbell says she actually went to one of the farms to buy chickens years ago.

"It was barren, the animals didn't look healthy and it, you know, it just didn't look good. It didn't feel good either," said Campbell.

Campbell says she didn't buy any chickens there so she's not worried about MG on her farm but she thinks the farms should have been raided years ago.

"Animal Control should have been a little more involved in going out there without notice. Don't give notice," said Campbell.

Sauve says right now only the Department of Agriculture has the ability to do surprise inspections but she says she is fighting to change that. Sauve believes surprise inspections at the three farms raided in Loxahatchee could have prevented the worst cases of animal abuse she's ever seen.

"I absolutely believe that because you know we were refused entry many times to this farm. Local animal control authority should have the ability to go in and randomly inspect places like this," said Sauve.

To stop MG from spreading in our area Sauve says anyone who may have purchased live birds from Paso Fino farms in Loxahatchee needs to take them to a vet for tests.

MG can also be passed on to people who work closely with chickens and birds but Sauve points out it is treatable in humans.  

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