Avian flu case found in backyard chicken flock in Union County, officials say

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — A backyard chicken flock in Union County has tested positive for High Path Avian Influenza, better known as HPAI, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced.

The positive sample was found by the department’s lab in Raleigh. It is the first confirmed positive in Union County.

Charlotte-area bird owners should be on high alert, officials said.

In the late spring and early summer, bird flu was found at nine poultry farms in Johnston and Wayne counties. In mid-October, HPAI was found in a single backyard flock in Wake County.

“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,” said State Veterinarian Mike Martin.

The flock, which is less than 100 birds, will now be depopulated to prevent spread of the disease.

This type of bird flu is considered a low risk to people, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. However, it is highly contagious to other birds, including commercial and backyard poultry flocks.

The virus is also not considered a food safety threat and infected birds do not enter the food supply, officials said.

“The threat of high path avian influenza is nationwide and likely will remain through the fall and winter,” Martin said. “Commercial operations and backyard flock owners should continue to follow strict biosecurity measures including keeping birds enclosed without access to wild birds or other domestic flocks when possible.”

For more information on bird flu/HPAI and the warning signs, click here.

(WATCH BELOW: Avian flu outbreak spreads concern for farmers in North Carolina)