Get the Facts About Avian Flu

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Recently there has been an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (a.k.a. Flu)  in certain Midwestern and West Coast states, which has devastated numerous poultry flocks. Although it has not spread to North Carolina as of today, consumers, farmers, and small flock owners should understand the facts regarding this issue. Below is a brief summary of the situation, written by Dan Campeau, Area Specialized Poultry Agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension. At the bottom you will find links to websites with more detailed information.

Avian Flu and how it may affect You!

How can this current stain of Highly Pathogenic Avian Flu affect You? There are several layers to this question. It really affects EVERYONE!

From a Human Health Standpoint, so far no one has gotten sick from this strain of Avian Flu. We have been very lucky from that standpoint. There is NO danger of getting this flu virus from eating cooked eggs or poultry meat.

From a Consumer Standpoint, you will likely have to pay significantly more for eggs and poultry meat at your local grocery stores over the next year.

From a Small Flock Owner Standpoint, if this strain of highly pathogenic bird flu gets into your flock, most of your birds will be dead within three days. Since many of our Small Flock owners have a personal relationship with their birds, it can be very devastating to their owners and families to lose whole flocks of birds both from an emotional and financial standpoint.

From a Commercial Large Flock Owner Standpoint, an infected flock could lead to millions of dollars of lost revenue, since the entire flock would be depopulated. It is not easy on flock owners and their families to lose their main source of revenue in a 3-7 day period.

This strain of Avian Flu is carried by seemingly healthy migratory waterfowl. The biggest threat to our North Carolina flock owners are in the spring and fall migratory season. So far, 211 farms in the Midwest and West Coast areas have been affected and depopulated and there has been over a hundred million dollars of financial loss directly related to this disease. It is potentially a BIG Deal for all of us.

What can we do? As small flock owners, we need to keep visitors out and follow NC laws that state that we have to keep our birds on our own property. Try to keep birds indoors especially during spring and fall while migratory waterfowl are flying overhead. Keep birds away from farm ponds and grassy areas around ponds. Do not order biddies from Midwest hatcheries until next year. Wear different footgear to farm supply stores than you wear while doing your poultry chores.

As large flock owners, practice good biosecurity measures, including the footwear recommendation above.

For consumers, please be patient with your local and Midwest egg producers. It may take a year or two for prices to come back down.

Our State Veterinarian and Commissioner of Agriculture have placed a moratorium on all poultry sales, bird swaps, live bird markets, fairs, demonstrations, and any other poultry events from August 15, 2015 to January 15 of 2016. Please be aware of this and be glad we are trying to be proactive in North Carolina in trying to prevent the potential spread of this disease to our State.

For more information:

NCSU Poultry Science Department:

NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services:

Note that minor edits to Dan Campeau’s above article were made by Paul McKenzie.