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NC Officials Preparing For Avian Bird Flu Outbreak

An image of chickens on farm
Charlie Neibergall
Associated Press


North Carolina officials are closely monitoring an outbreak of the avian bird flu spreading in the Midwest and Western United States. Thirty million birds have either died from the disease, or have been killed as a preventive measure to control the flu from spreading, according the U.S. Department of Agriculture.




The states that have seen the avian bird flu include:

North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler told state lawmakers Tuesday morning the department is preparing for an outbreak while helping other areas that have been affected. The state sent staff from its veterinary and emergency divisions programs to help Minnesota farms depopulate their infected chickens and plans to send another team to Iowa this week.

The state is preparing for a possible outbreak this fall, according to Brian Long, NC Dept. of Agriculture spokesman. He said migratory waterfowl spend the summer in Canada and might make their way to North Carolina through the Southern Flyway. Long said the state has talked to the poultry industry and owners of backyard flocks about ways to prevent an outbreak.

“We are stepping up the industry’s biosecurity efforts in farms so they can bury down the hatchet, so to speak,” Long said. “The best way to mitigate an outbreak if it does happen is through security measures, but when you are talking about migratory birds that raises a degree of difficulty because these birds can fly over anywhere.”

Long said states like Minnesota and Iowa have been devastated by the avian bird flu and he does not want to see that happen to North Carolina farms.  

“The farm that gets it will be out of commission for a period of several months. You are losing production when that happens,” he said.

While Long says the state is ready to respond quickly to a possible outbreak, he hopes the precautionary measures will be for nothing. But he said the teams helping states already affected are learning valuable lessons in case the avian bird flu comes to North Carolina.

Charlie Shelton-Ormond is a podcast producer for WUNC.
Jeff Tiberii is the co-host of WUNC's "Due South." Jeff joined WUNC in 2011. During his 20 years in public radio, he was Morning Edition Host at WFDD and WUNC’s Greensboro Bureau Chief and later, the Capitol Bureau Chief. Jeff has covered state and federal politics, produced the radio documentary “Right Turn,” launched a podcast, and was named North Carolina Radio Reporter of the Year four times.
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