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First case of bird flu confirmed in Union County chickens

This is the first positive case confirmed in Union County

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — According to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Raleigh (NCDA&CS), a chicken flock in Union County has tested positive for High Path Avian Influenza (HPAI)

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Officials say HPAI was found at nine poultry farms in Johnston, Wayne, and Wake counties throughout the year.

This is the first positive case confirmed in Union County. 

RELATED: Yes, a strain of bird flu is spreading in the US but infections in humans are rare

"We have had evidence that the HPAI virus has remained in our resident wild bird population and in migratory waterfowl, so reports of backyard positive flocks are unfortunate, but not surprising," State Veterinarian Mike Martin said.

The warning signs of HPAI include: 

  • 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

According to the CDC, this type of HPAI virus is considered a low risk to people but is highly contagious to other birds, including commercial and backyard flocks of poultry. 

RELATED: VERIFY: No, you can't get infected with bird flu while handling wild bird feeders

The virus is also not considered a food safety threat and infected birds do not enter the food supply, as they will be put down to prevent the spread of the flu. 

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The NCDA&CS asks that if your birds are sick or dying, to report it right away to your local veterinarian, NCAGR at 919-707-3250, or N.C. Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System at 919-733-3986.

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