North Carolina has been designated High Path Avian Influenza-free by the World Organization for Animal Health. Why should that matter to you if you're not in the poultry business? The HPAI outbreak is one of the reasons why chicken and egg prices are so high. This designation means that the state can resume exports and international trade for poultry products and that additional business opportunity may help to moderate prices over time.
Under WOAH guidelines, HPAI-free status can be declared after the disease has been eliminated on all affected farms and no new infections are detected during a 28-day waiting period.
“Beginning in January, when migratory birds traveling through the state tested positive for HPAI, we have been on high alert,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Our Veterinary Division, poultry companies, commodity organizations and several other federal and state agencies worked together to communicate the threat of this disease and minimize the impact on our poultry farmers and backyard flock owners. Nine of our poultry farms tested positive for HPAI in March and April, resulting in a statewide ban on poultry shows and sales from April through June. Our swift response quickly controlled the outbreak. Achieving HPAI-free status is the last step we needed as a state to put this outbreak behind us.
Poultry owners are encouraged to continue to follow strict biosecurity measures and monitor their flocks for signs of illness,” said Troxler. “Steps should be taken to minimize exposure to wild birds as much as possible.” Poultry owners can report sick or dying birds to their local veterinarian, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Veterinary Division, 919-707-3250, or the N.C. Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System 919-733-3986.
This HPAI outbreak affected 400 poultry farms in 38 states since February. In North Carolina, more than 110,000 turkeys and 371,000 broilers were depopulated on the six turkey farms and three broiler farms in Johnston and Wayne counties that tested positive. Avian influenza is not a food safety risk and carries a low risk of human infection.
Broilers, or chicken raised for meat, are the top agricultural commodity for North Carolina, representing more than $3.6 billion in cash receipts for farmers annually. More than 916 million broilers are raised each year in the state. North Carolina also ranks first in the nation in poultry and egg cash receipts and is the second-largest turkey-producing state in the nation, raising more than 31 million turkeys annually. North Carolina exported over $417 Million worth of poultry and poultry products in 2021.
More information about High Path Avian Influenza is online at www.ncagr.gov/avianflu.