PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - The state is imposing new suspensions for the poultry industry as High Path Avian Influenza infections are on the rise.
Tuesday, North Carolina’s state veterinarian, Dr. Michael Martin, put a pause on all poultry shows and mass public sales.
More than 350,000 birds have been euthanized this week in the state, but the total number of birds affected is still unknown as with each new positive site, the state broadens its testing parameters.
Martin is tightening the reigns on bird gatherings, all in an attempt to beat the clock on migration patterns of infected wild birds out of the state and to keep cross-contamination as subdued as possible.
Feed store owners now wonder what this might mean for their industry.
“If there was a ban on commercial sales, that’s going to impact us pretty heavily,” said Greg Cannon, the owner of a hardware and feed store in Farmville.
Cannon sold the last chick of his most recent order, but with high path bird flu ripping through the country he wonders if it is safe to order more.
“We certainly have been concerned about it, but we’ve sold some chicks this year,” said Cannon. “We usually sell about 600 chicks a year out of the store.”
Seven commercial farming operations across Johnston and Wayne Counties euthanized more than 90,000 turkeys and more than 280,000 chickens in the past week.
“What we’re seeing with the spread of this virus in our commercial birds and also what we’re seeing nationally, shows that there’s a lot that we still have not learned about how this virus actually sheds,” said Martin.
His office most recently placed a suspension on all poultry shows and live public sales of birds but relief came for Cannon and other feed store owners.
“This is not for, like say pet stores and that type of thing, but we’re talking about open sales, auctions, swaps, poultry shows,” explained Martin, “Those types of things, where we have a large group of people that are coming together with maybe a mixed group of birds.”
Cannon acts diligently to keep his product safe from infection saying, “I want to make sure when we order our [hatchlings] that we get them immunized before they come here.”
All the while, he tries to keep the local industries afloat through the threat.
“I do have some farmers that have chicken houses and they are concerned about it,” continued Cannon. “They obviously don’t handle my chickens and don’t get around my chickens when they are here.”
Biosecurity is essential to containing bird flu.
Humans are safe from contracting the virus, but they can easily transmit infection if say they handle a sick bird and then touch other birds without washing up first.
The best thing for commercial and backyard flock owners to do is to limit their flock’s contact with other birds as much as possible.
At one time that excluded common backyard songbirds, but now the state says to err on the side of caution and quarantine your flocks whenever you can.
Infected birds do not pose a threat to the food supply, but Martin says no contaminated flocks will make it to processing centers because the risk of further infecting more flocks is too high.
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