Cooperative Extension offers tips to help prevent avian flu in state

While the High Path Avian Flu is largely impacting poultry producers in the Midwestern states, North Carolina officials are working to minimize the impact of the disease locally.

Recently the state suspended poultry shows and public sales from Aug. 15 to Jan. 15, including the N.C. State Fair and Mountain State Fair poultry shows, bird shows at county fairs, live bird auctions and poultry swap meets.

NC Cooperative Extension Service Area Specialized Poultry Agent Dan Campeau said the disease will likely impact everyone in the state in some way.

“So far no one has gotten sick from this strain of avianflu,” he said. “We have been very lucky from that standpoint. There is no danger of getting this flu virus from eating cooked eggs or poultry meat.”

But Campeau said the impact the disease has had on major producers will impact consumers in the checkout line throughout the country.

“You will likely have to pay significantly more for eggs and poultry meat at your local grocery stores over the next year,” he said. “Please be patient with your local and Midwest egg producers. It may take a year or two for prices to come back down.”

Campeau said it was very important that North Carolina poultry producers do everything they could to minimize the risk of avian flue in the state.

“If this strain of highly pathogenic bird flu gets into your flock, most of your birds will be dead within three days,” he said. “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, it can mean millions of dollars of lost revenue, having to depopulate whole flocks and it is not easy on their owners or families to lose their main source of revenue in a three to seven day period.”

Campeau said small and large scale producers in North Carolina could take a variety of steps to minimize the risk of this strain of avian flu spreading into North Carolina.

“This strain of avian flu is carried by seemingly healthy migratory waterfowl,” he said. “The biggest threat to our North Carolina flock owners are in the spring and fall migratory season.

“As small flock owners, we need to keep visitors out and follow North Carolina laws that state that we have to keep our birds on our own property,” he continued. “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 foot gear to agri-supply stores than you wear while doing your poultry chores.”

He said large flock owners also need to practice good biosecurity measures.

“We are trying to be proactive in North Carolina to try to prevent it’s potential spread in our State,” he added. “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 lose directly related to this disease. It is potentially a big deal for all of us.”

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