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I’m sure you have heard talk or concern about Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), sometimes called the avian flu or bird flu. So, what is it exactly? HPAI is a virus carried by free-flying waterfowl like ducks, geese, and shorebirds. Chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, domestic ducks and geese, and guineas can become infected through transmission of the virus from saliva, feces, and nasal secretions. It is highly pathogenic, and infected flocks have extremely high mortality rates.
There have been 53 confirmed cases of HPAI in hunter-harvested wild waterfowl at three sites in North Carolina. These sites are Hyde County, a site located 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 the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as part of its ongoing surveillance program for early detection of HPAI in collaboration with state wildlife agencies. A confirmed case of HPAI in a commercial turkey flock in Dubois County, Indiana has also been detected. This is the first confirmed case of HPAI in commercial poultry in the United States since 2020.
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
- 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 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 you can take to protect your flock visit https://poultry.ces.ncsu.edu/2022/02/highly-pathogenic-avian-influenza-educational-resources/
For more information, please contact Taylor Chavis, Extension Livestock Agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, at 910-671-3276, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our website at https://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu/.
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ABOUT N.C. COOPERATIVE EXTENSION
N.C. Cooperative Extension is a strategic partnership of NC State University, N.C. A&T State University, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA), and local governments statewide. Extension professionals in all 100 counties, and with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, connect millions of North Carolinians with research-based information and technology from NC State and N.C. A&T. Educational programs specialize in agriculture, food and nutrition, 4-H youth development, community development and the environment. Find your local center at www.ces.ncsu.edu/local-county-center.