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December 08, 2023

Poultry owners cautioned: Protect your birds from virus

By Allison Brown, Director,

Alexander County Cooperative Extension

High Path Avian Influenza has now been confirmed in 53 wild waterfowl in Hyde County, Pamlico/Beaufort County and Bladen County. “Wild birds can carry this virus asymptomatically and potentially spread it to domestic poultry,” said State Veterinarian Mike Martin. “We strongly encourage all poultry owners to follow strict biosecurity measures for at least the next 30 days, which is the time frame these birds are anticipated to be migrating through the state.”

Poultry owners are encouraged to increase their biosecurity measures by keeping birds isolated from other people and animals in an enclosed environment. The virus can be carried and transmitted on your shoes, clothing, tools and tires. Remember when disinfecting shoes, tools or equipment, they should be free of debris and manure as the disinfectant will not penetrate organic matter. The next 30 days are critical as this is the anticipated time for migrating birds to be traveling through our state. Bird owners should keep their flocks away from ponds where they could encounter migrating birds.

All poultry owners, both backyard and commercial, should use only designated shoes and clothing when caring for your birds. It is best to avoid all areas where migratory birds might be (ponds and lakes) if possible during this critical time. Alexander County has many commercial poultry family farms, with families dependent upon that income. Turkeys and chickens are highly susceptible to this strain of High Path Avian Influenza. This situation should be taken very seriously as it could have major impacts on the poultry industry in NC and our food supply.

Here are some warning signs of HPAI to look for:
• 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

For more information or questions about biosecurity or High Path Avian Influenza, contact Alexander County Cooperative Extension Center at 632-4451.

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