updated 2/15/2004 5:21:21 PM ET 2004-02-15T22:21:21

The Pennsylvania Agriculture Department has confirmed an outbreak of avian flu at a Lancaster County farm, but said the strain infecting the flock is not likely to be harmful to humans.

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The flock near Mount Joy in southeastern Pennsylvania was infected with the H2N2 strain of avian influenza, said Agriculture Secretary Dennis C. Wolff.

That’s a slightly different version of the virus than the H7N2 that was found on two farms in Delaware and in live bird markets in New Jersey. And none of the virus found so far in the United States resembles the H5N1 virus that has jumped to humans in Asia and killed at least 20 people in Asia.

“We believe this indicates no threat to human health and a low threat to the poultry industry,” Wolff said in a news release posted on the department’s Web site late Friday. “Based on this information, USDA is notifying our international trading partners to reassure them of the safety of U.S. poultry products.”

The infected farm was quarantined and flocks on 16 nearby farms were being tested.

Pennsylvania and New Jersey lost millions of birds during avian-flu outbreaks in the 1980s. An outbreak that affected several eastern states in 2001 and 2002 forced the destruction of more than 4.7 million birds in Virginia and 170,000 in Pennsylvania.

Officials say Pennsylvania’s voluntary avian-flu surveillance program is one of the nation’s largest, with 211,000 samples tested last year.

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