Veterinary - Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI)

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Domestic Bird Cases of HPAI in NC (since 2022)

Type of Operation County & Flock # Date Confirmed Positive Number of Poultry
Backyard/Independent Guilford 01 3/28/2024 *
Commercial Turkey Duplin 01 2/20/2024 20,888
Commercial Turkey Lenoir 01 2/09/2024 32,469
Backyard/Independent Rowan 02 5/18/2023 *
Backyard/Independent Rowan 01 1/2/2023 *
Backyard/Independent Onslow 01 12/8/2022 *
Backyard/Independent Union 02 12/01/2022 *
Backyard/Independent Durham 01 11/23/2022 *
Backyard/Independent Union 01 11/18/22 *
Backyard/Independent Wake 01 10/20/22 *
Commercial Broilers Wayne 06 4/12/22 89,702
Commercial Turkey Wayne 05 4/08/22 18,546
Commercial Broilers Wayne 04 4/06/22 65,601
Commercial Broilers Wayne 03 4/06/22 216,049
Commercial Turkey Wayne 02 4/05/22 14,175
Commercial Turkey Wayne 01 4/02/2022 16,924
Commercial Turkey Johnston 03 4/02/2022 18,888
Commercial Turkey Johnston 02 4/02/2022 9,546
Commercial Turkey Johnston 01 3/29/2022 32,134

HPAI Press Releases

Tab/Accordion Items

What is avian influenza?

Avian influenza (AI), also known as bird flu or fowl plague, is a disease caused by avian influenza A virus. Avian influenza is divided into two categories based on how severe the illness. These two categories are low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) and highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

While some types of avian influenza cause only mild illness in birds, the virus can mutate into a more dangerous version that could be potentially fatal. It is because of the virus’ ability to mutate quickly that any type of avian influenza is reportable to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Avian influenza can be spread in many ways including through air contaminated with virus (from coughing, sneezing, etc.) and feces. The virus can also be carried to and from flocks on clothing, boots, and equipment.

NCDA&CS has worked with the poultry industry, other state agencies, and federal agencies to prepare for and respond the threat of influenza in poultry. The state’s plan includes education, monitoring, reporting, and response. Testing for influenza is conducted through our NC Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System.

What about Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI)?

HPAI is a deadly disease that spreads very quickly and can affect many avian/poultry species including chickens and turkeys. With this threat, the faster we can respond the faster we can stop the virus from spreading. It is critical to keep strict biosecurity measures and watch your flock closely for any signs of the disease. Problems in your flocks should be reported quickly and is vital in protecting the poultry in our state and nation from this deadly disease.

Know the Warning Signs

  • 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

Report It!

If your birds are sick or dying, report it right away. This is one of the most important things you can do to keep HPAI from spreading.

  • Your local veterinarian
  • NC State Veterinary Office           919-707-3250
  • Your local branch of the NC Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System
    • Raleigh                             919-733-3986       
    • Elkin                                 336-526-2499
    • Monroe                             704-289-6448
    • Arden/Fletcher                  828-684-8188
  • USDA                                         866-536-7593

After you report, a Federal or State animal health official will contact you to learn more about your flock and operation.

Diagnostic Resources




General Resources




N.C. Department of Environmental Quality


How to protect your flock

What is biosecurity?

Biosecurity involves the use of husbandry practices that help protect your animals from infectious diseases. Backyard poultry can become sick, suffer, and die by being exposed to unseen disease agents like bacteria, viruses, internal parasites, and certain types of fungi.

10 Biosecurity Tips to Keep Your Birds Safe from Avian Flu

  1. Keep chickens, turkeys, quail, guineas and other poultry separately from ducks. Ducks are known reservoirs for HPAI virus and can carry the virus without signs of illness.
  2. The HPAI virus lives for a long time in cool, moist conditions, so eliminate standing water (which might attract wild birds and waterfowl) in your flock’s pen. Also, make certain your birds do not have access to other water sources that might be visited by wild waterfowl: ponds, streams, lakes. Commingling of domestic poultry with any wild waterfowl creates a real possibility for the spread of HPAI virus.
  3. Place a cover over your flock’s pen, if possible, to prevent introduction of wild waterfowl droppings into the area your flock inhabits. The droppings of infected waterfowl have very high levels of infectious HPAI virus.
  4. Feed and water your birds in a protected area to prevent attracting any wild birds. The virus infects many species of birds and can be spread to your poultry through contact with birds carrying the virus on their feet or feathers, though they may not be infected.
  5. Wear shoe covers or clean boots each time you enter your birds’ pen. This will prevent tracking HPAI virus into the birds’ pen if it is present on your grounds.
  6. Keep feeders and waterers clean and sanitized often. Wild birds infected with HPAI virus that drink or eat from your flock’s equipment can spread the virus to your flock.
  7. Do not share equipment with other flocks. If you must share equipment, be certain it is cleaned and disinfected before moving from one premises to another.
  8. If you purchase new birds, buy only from a reputable dealer. Keep the newly purchased birds separate from your existing flock for at least 3 weeks to rule out any infection that might be present, but not showing signs of illness when the birds were initially purchased.
  9. Watch your flock closely and know the signs of illness. Poultry infected with HPAI can have various signs of illness, but the most consistent sign of an infected flock is having many birds die within a short timeframe.
  10. If your flock suddenly becomes depressed and begins dying, please contact NCDA&CS, your cooperative extension office, your local veterinarian or USDA APHIS and report these deaths immediately. You can reach NCDA&CS Veterinary Division at 919-707-3250, or USDA APHIS at 1-866-536-7593.

Additional resources




3 Reasons Your Food is Safe:

  • Sick birds are not processed for food.
  • The risk to humans is low. No humans have become ill from avian influenza by consuming poultry or poultry products.
  • NCDA&CS is actively monitoring for the virus. We are ready to support poultry owners if the virus is detected in our state.

For more information, it is strongly recommended to look at additional resources below,

Additional Resources




What should I do if I find a dead bird?

Birds die from many causes, so there typically is no cause for alarm. If you find significant numbers of dead birds, you should report the finding to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission  via NC Wildlife Helpline at 866-318-2401, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., or email

Am I at risk?

The risk of catching Avian Influenza from a wild bird is extremely low but not impossible depending on your level of exposure.  See CDC's information for specific groups who may be in contact with birds/poultry, or who may be at risk for exposure to avian influenza.  For MOST individuals, their level of wild bird interaction would put them more at risk for other diseases wild birds can carry (i.e. Salmonella and Campylobacter). CDC recommendations.

Do I have to worry about pets eating or bringing dead birds into the house?

Preventing pets from eating wild birds or other animal carcasses or carrying them around is important.   While transfer of avian influenza from bird to mammal is not common or easy, it can happen.  Also, wild birds can carry a number of other diseases that you do not want introduced to your pets or your home.

Additional Resources


US Fish and Wildlife Services

The Centers for Disease Control says that avian influenza poses a low risk in humans. However, working directly with poultry increases your risk of exposure to the virus.

All commercial poultry premises that raise 100,000 or more broilers annually for meat, raise 30,000 turkeys or more annually for meat, have 75,000 or more table egg layers, raise 25,000 or more ‘for release’ upland game birds annually, and/or raise 25,000 or more waterfowl birds annually must follow the NPIP Program Standards for Biosecurity Audits to be eligible for indemnity or compensation by the USDA. Biosecurity plans are audited by the NC NPIP Official State Agent at least once every two years. If a commercial farm is operating under a commercial integrator’s biosecurity program, they should be following the approved plan consistently.

Additional Resources


N.C. Department of Environmental Quality

Center for Disease Control 

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I put away bird feeders and bird baths because of High Path Avian Influenza?

The NCDA & CS Veterinary Division has been working in collaboration with our partners at the NC Wildlife Resources Commission regarding wild birds in NC with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza. The use of wild bird feeders has been an increasing public concern due to our current outbreak of HPAI in commercial poultry.

Surveillance of wild birds in NC confirmed the presence of HPAI in our state on January 16, 2022. Waterfowl often carry the disease without showing any signs of illness. Other types of birds, including commercial and backyard poultry, can have severe illness often leading to death. It is unclear how the virus impacts songbirds or the role songbirds might play in virus transmission. During this disease incident, there have been no cases of songbirds testing positive for HPAI and no reported deaths of wild birds at NC bird feeders.

Wild birds will gather where food and water isare available. If you own poultry, we do not recommend having bird feeders/baths. If you don’t own poultry, the NC Wildlife Resources Commission recommends you clean your bird seed feeders and bird baths a minimum of every two weeks with a dilute bleach solution (no more than 1-part bleach to 9-parts water) before rinsing and allowing it to air dry completely before refilling. Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned similarly when the nectar is changed, at least twice per week. If you do find wild birds dead near a bird feeder, please report it to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission’s Wildlife Helpline at 1-866-318-2401 or

My ducks and chickens, turkeys and guineas live together and all seem healthy. Do I need to separate them?

It is a good idea to keep all waterfowl separate from your chickens, guineas and turkeys. Waterfowl are known carriers of the influenza virus and may appear perfectly healthy, while being able to infect your flock.

My flock lives outside except when they enter their coop for the night. Should I keep them inside all the time?

Moving flocks inside will provide further protection because they have less chance of coming in contact with wild waterfowl. If you cannot keep them in housing, be sure to avoid anything that might attract other birds, such as feeding them in the open or spilled feed..

How could wild waterfowl give the disease to my flock?

Wild waterfowl typically shed the virus through their droppings. The virus lives well in cool, moist places, so access to ponds and streams can be dangerous for your flock. It is best to keep your flock confined so that they cannot access areas where waterfowl gather.

Questions? Contact us at:

NCDA&CS – Veterinary Division, Poultry Health Programs
Phone: (919) 707-3250 opt 2 or (919) 707-3365
Email :