RALEIGH, N.C. – A commercial turkey operation in Johnston County has tested positive for High Path Avian Influenza. The positive sample was first identified by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Raleigh and confirmed by the USDA APHIS National Veterinary Services Lab in Ames, Iowa.
Since late January, the HPAI virus has been found in 48 commercial farms in 12 states and 32 backyard flocks in 13 states. This is the first case of high path avian influenza in domestic poultry in North Carolina.
Since Jan. 16, more than 100 hunter harvested wild birds have tested positive for HPAI in North Carolina and the N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission has reported four mortalities in wild birds from the virus.
“With HPAI in the wild bird population and other cases around the country, commercial operators and backyard flock owners have been on heightened watch for any signs of the virus in their flocks,” said State Veterinarian Mike Martin. “The industry responded quickly to the positive result, depopulating the affected flock of 32,100 and starting the composting process of the birds onsite to guard against additional spread. Under HPAI protocols, we will be actively testing other flocks within the 10 kilometer zone or about 6.2 miles in collaboration with our federal and industry partners.”
The 10 kilometer zone includes Johnston County and portions of Sampson and Wayne counties.
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 threat of high path avian influenza is statewide,” said Martin. “Our poultry population is at high risk. 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
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.
–Heather Overton, NCDA&CS