The North Carolina Agriculture Department has begun hosting avian flu informational meetings for people with backyard poultry operations.
If avian flu comes to the state, agriculture experts say backyard poultry will likely be the first to encounter the contagious and fatal disease because these flocks tend to live outdoors and use unprotected water sources.
"These flocks appear to be more susceptible to infection simply because of their exposure," said Charlie Tyson, director of the Nash County Cooperative Extension. "Our commercial flocks of poultry are housed in poultry houses and are not as exposed."
Nash which will host an informational meeting on avian flu risks and prevention options Thursday, September 3. It's one of five regional meetings planned to educate backyard poultry farmers.
State Ag Department spokesman Brian Long is also encouraging small poultry farmers to register their operations, so they can receive guidance and updates about bird flu occurrences.
"We want to make sure that everyone's informed and understands the importance of biosecurity measures they can take on their farms and ways that they can help to either prevent it, and if not prevent it from coming, at least mitigate the impacts," Long said.
Despite skeptics' claims that bird flu fears are overblown, Long says poultry flocks in Minnesota and Iowa have been decimated in the past year.
"We would like nothing better than to come through the winter and enter next spring and realize that we were over-prepared," says Long.
Information about bird safety, the state poultry operation registry, and and other meetings is on the state Ag Department avian flu web page.
People interested in attending information meetings are asked to pre-register here.
- Sept. 1, Guilford County Center, 3309 Burlington Road, Greensboro
Contact: Karen Neill, 336-641-2400
- Sept. 2, Union County Center, 3230 Presson Road, Monroe
Contact: Kelly Liddington, 704-283-2801
- Sept. 4, Nash County Center, 1006 Eastern Ave., Nashville
Contact: Charlie Tyson, 252-459-9810
- Sept. 8, Duplin County Center, 165 Agriculture Dr., Kenansville
Contact: Amanda Hatcher, 910-296-2143
- Sept. 11, Burke County Center, 130 Ammons Dr., Morganton
Contact: Spring Williams, 828-439-4460
Correction: This story has been updated to state that Iowa has seen cases of avian flu, not Ohio.