Commercial and Backyard Poultry Owners: Spread of Deadly HPAI Requires Heightened Biosecurity for Your Flocks

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is a fatal disease than can wipe out entire poultry populations. Because HPAI is spread by migratory wild birds, it is most important for owners to implement and maintain strict biosecurity measures to protect their flocks, as the migratory flyway covers the entire state..

The NC Department of Agriculture urges free range and organic bird operations in North Carolina to keep birds indoors due to this heightened risk. Bird owners should also keep their flock away from ponds where they might encounter migrating birds. This represents another serious risk for growers.

It is important that poultry owners monitor their flocks for unusual signs of illness or unexpected deaths and report them to the NC Department of Agriculture as soon as possible. Some of the warning signs of High Path AI 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 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 at 919-707-3250, or the N.C. Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System at 919-733-3986.

This type of HPAI virus is considered a low risk to people according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

High Path AI is not a food safety issue. Your food is safe.

Find more information on avian influenza and additional steps you can take to protect your flock at

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