High Path Avian Influenza (HPAI) Update 10.20.22

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chickens in coop

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, OCT. 20, 2022

CONTACT: Heather Overton, assistant director
NCDA&CS Public Affairs Division
919-707-3006 or 919-839-4662, heather.overton@ncagr.gov

Backyard flock in Wake County tests positive for HPAI

RALEIGH – A backyard chicken flock in Wake County has tested positive for High Path Avian Influenza (HPAI). The positive sample was identified by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Raleigh.

This is the first confirmed positive in a backyard flock in the state. In late spring and early summer, HPAI was found at nine poultry farms in Johnston and Wayne counties.

“We have had evidence that the HPAI virus has remained in our resident wild bird population and in migratory waterfowl, so confirmed reports of a positive flock is unfortunate, but not surprising,” said State Veterinarian Mike Martin. “The owner of this flock reported sick birds to our Veterinary Division and dead vultures were also found on the property.”

The flock of less than 100 birds will be depopulated to prevent spread of the disease. Other backyard flocks located near the infected flock will be contacted as part of our ongoing surveillance.

This type of HPAI virus is considered a low risk to people according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, but is highly contagious to other birds, including commercial and backyard flocks of poultry. The virus is also not considered a food safety threat and infected birds do not enter the food supply.

“Because we know this virus is in our resident wild birds and migratory birds the threat of high path avian influenza is statewide and likely will remain so through the fall and winter,” Martin said. “This virus continues to put our poultry population at high risk. This latest HPAI positive flock reinforces the need to be extra vigilant. Commercial operations and backyard flock owners should continue to follow strict biosecurity measures including keeping birds enclosed without access to wild birds or other domestic flocks.”

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.

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

More information on biosecurity and the signs of HPAI is at www.ncagr.gov/avianflu. 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.

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Sound biosecurity practices are critical during this time. We must all be diligent to protect NC’s poultry flocks, both large and small. Do your part and know the facts. See our HPAI Educational Resources Page for more information.
 
If you believe you’ve encountered a wild bird with HPAI or suspect that your own flock is infected, please reach out to NCDA&CS at (919) 707-3250 or call the USDA Hotline at 1-866-536-7593.