Avian flu found in birds in NC: Protect backyard, commercial chicken flocks

Published 11:13 am Friday, January 28, 2022

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High Path Avian Influenza has been confirmed in 53 hunter-harvested wild waterfowl at three sites in North Carolina.
These sites are in Hyde County on the Pamlico/Beaufort County line and a new site in Bladen County. These are the first wild birds in the United States to have Eurasian H5 HPAI since 2016. The positive samples were collected by USDA as part of its ongoing surveillance program for early detection of HPAI in collaboration with state wildlife agencies.
“These findings continue to support evidence that high path avian influenza is present in the Atlantic Americas migratory flyway,” said State Veterinarian Mike Martin. “Wild birds can carry this virus asymptomatically and potentially spread it to domestic poultry. We strongly encourage all poultry owners to follow strict biosecurity measures for at least the next 30 days, which is the time frame these birds are anticipated to be migrating through the state.”
“We have a substantial amount of poultry in Davie and Yadkin counties,” said Phil Rucker, livestock Cooperative Extension agent. “Not only do we have commercial operations but a steadily growing backyard flock presence. This threat can pose issues for both types of operations. Biosecurity measures are paramount.”
Those measures include keeping birds isolated from other people and animals in an enclosed environment. Bird owners should keep their flock away from ponds where they might encounter migrating birds.
“While sampling is occurring in the eastern part of the state, the Atlantic Americas migratory flyway covers the entire state. This means that all bird owners need to implement strong biosecurity measures and keep their birds in an enclosed environment,” Martin said.
This type of HPAI virus is considered a low risk to people according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, but it can be dangerous to other birds, including commercial and backyard flocks of poultry. HPAI is also not a food safety issue.
All bird owners are encouraged to know the warning signs of Avian Influenza and implement steps to protect their flock.
The warning signs of HPAI include:
• reduced energy, decreased appetite, and/or decreased activity;
• lower egg production and/or soft-shelled or misshapen eggs;
• swelling of the head, eyelids, comb and wattles;
• purple discoloration of the wattles, comb and legs;
• difficulty breathing, runny nares (nose), and/or sneezing;
• twisting of the head and neck, stumbling, falling down, tremors and/or circling; and
• greenish diarrhea.
If birds are sick or dying, report it right away to your veterinarian, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Veterinary Division at 919-707-3250, or the N.C. Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System at 919-733-3986.
For more information on avian influenza and additional steps to take to protect a flock visit www.ncagr.gov/avianflu.