NCDA Warns Poultry Owners Amid Bird Flu Threat

Recommendations include keeping birds enclosed/indoors if possible

RALEIGH – State Veterinarian Dr. Mike Martin has extended his strong recommendation to poultry owners to continue strict biosecurity measures due to the threat of High Path Avian Influenza. These recommendations include keeping birds enclosed/indoors if possible.

The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, along with the United States Department of Agriculture and the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission has been tracking the highly pathogenic Eurasian H5 avian influenza first identified in January in wild waterfowl in our state.

“Since Jan. 16, more than 100 wild birds have tested positive for HPAI in North Carolina,” Martin said. “The wild waterfowl that tested positive in our state are still wintering in the Carolinas. HPAI has also been confirmed in 17 commercial poultry farms across seven states and 10 backyard/independent flocks in seven states. These positive cases in domestic poultry flocks in other states continue to rise, which is concerning. North Carolina has not had a case of HPAI in domestic poultry.”

This type of HPAI virus is considered a low risk to people according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, but is dangerous to other birds, including commercial and backyard flocks of poultry. 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
  • Greenish diarrhea

If your birds are sick or dying, report it right away to your local veterinarian, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Veterinary Division, 919-707-3250, or the N.C. Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System 919-733-3986. 

If you have questions about migratory birds, hunting, or wild waterfowl found dead on your property, visit the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s website at www.ncwildlife.org.