Backyard flock of chickens in Wake County tests positive for high path avian influenza. Serves as reminder that HPAI remains in wild bird population and precautions still need to be taken.

by | Oct 28, 2022

State Veterinarian Dr. Mike Martin urges poultry owners to remain vigilant in protecting their birds after a flock of chickens in Wake County tested positive for high path avian influenza. Martin said it is a reminder that HPAI remains in the wild bird population in our state and continues to be a threat to commercial chickens and other backyard flocks.

Today’s Topic with Southern Farm Network’s Mike Davis 

  • You may recall back in August, we were officially declared free of high path avian influenza.
  • Since then, through partnership with the N.C. Wildlife Commission, we have continued to monitor and test for the virus in the wild bird population.
  • We have known that the virus has remained in the wild bird population in the state, continuing to pose a threat to commercial poultry as well as backyard flocks.
  • Last week we confirmed through testing at our lab that a backyard flock in Wake County tested positive for high path avian influenza. It is the first backyard flock confirmed positive in the state.
  • While unfortunate, I won’t say it is surprising given the fact that we knew HPAI was still in the area in wild birds and migratory waterfowl.
  • The flock of less than 100 birds will be depopulated to prevent spread of the disease.
  • We will contact owners of other backyard flocks that are located near the infected flock and those flocks will continue to be monitored as part of our ongoing surveillance.
  • I cannot stress enough that poultry owners should keep close watch on their flocks looking for any signs of sick or dying birds. High path avian influenza will continue to be a risk into the fall and winter.
  • Some of the signs of HPAI include:
    – reduced energy 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, circling
    – greenish diarrhea
  • Contact your local veterinarian, the department’s Veterinary Division at 919-707-3250 or the N.C. Veterinary Diagnostic Lab System at 919-733-3986 to report sick or dying birds.
  • 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.