High Path Avian Influenza (HPAI) Update 1.27.23

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THURSDAY, JAN. 26, 2023

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

Rowan County has a positive case of HPAI

RALEIGH –Rowan County has an emu that 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 Rowan County. In late spring and early summer, HPAI was found at nine poultry farms in Johnston and Wayne counties, and recently HPAI was found in a single backyard flock in Wake County, a single backyard flock in Durham County, a single backyard flock in Carteret County and two flocks in Union County.

“We have had evidence that the HPAI virus has remained in our resident wild bird populations and in migratory waterfowl, so continued reports of positive domesticated birds are unfortunate, but not surprising,” said State Veterinarian Mike Martin.

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.

“The threat of high path avian influenza is nationwide and likely will remain through the winter and spring,” Martin said. “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 when possible.”

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 at 919-707-3250, or the N.C. Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System at 919-733-3986.

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 can be found at NCDA&CS Avian Flu. 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.

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.