• Jefferson Weaver

Bird Flu Confirmed in Backyard Flock

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza has turned up again, this time in a backyard flock in Wake County.

The state has not issued any warnings or declarations, but flockowners are encouraged to remain vigilant for sick birds.




This is the first confirmed positive in a backyard flock in the state, according to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Veterinary Diagnostic Lab. 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.”

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 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 ongoing surveillance.


“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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