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What is avian influenza?
Avian influenza (AI), also known as bird flu or fowl plague, is a disease caused by avian influenza A virus. Avian influenza is divided into two categories based on how severe the illness. These two categories are low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) and highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).
While some types of avian influenza cause only mild illness in birds, the virus can mutate into a more dangerous version that could be potentially fatal. It is because of the virus’ ability to mutate quickly that any type of avian influenza is reportable to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Avian influenza can be spread in many ways including through air contaminated with virus (from coughing, sneezing, etc.) and feces. The virus can also be carried to and from flocks on clothing, boots, and equipment. Click here for more information about Avian Influenza.
NCDA&CS has worked with the poultry industry, other state agencies, and federal agencies to prepare for and respond the threat of influenza in poultry. The state’s plan includes education, monitoring, reporting, and response. Testing for influenza is conducted through our NC Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System.
What about Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI)?
HPAI is a deadly disease that spreads very quickly and can affect many avian/poultry species including chickens and turkeys. With this threat, the faster we can respond the faster we can stop the virus from spreading. It is critical to keep strict biosecurity measures and watch your flock closely for any signs of the disease. Problems in your flocks should be reported quickly and is vital in protecting the poultry in our state and nation from this deadly disease
Know the Warning Signs
- 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. This is one of the most important things you can do to keep HPAI from spreading.
- Your flock or local veterinarian
- NC State Veterinary Office 919-707-3250
- Your local branch of the NC Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System
- Raleigh 919-733-3986
- Elkin 336-526-2499
- Monroe 704-289-6448
- Arden/Fletcher 828-684-8188
- USDA 866-536-7593
After you report, a Federal or State animal health official will contact you to learn more about your flock and operation.
Additional Diagnostic Resources
Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza Plan
N.C. Department of Environmental Quality
Hyperlink to Sick Bird Information/NC Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System section