RALEIGH, N.C. (Dec. 22, 2014) — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has been advised that avian influenza was detected recently in the northwestern United States, but there is no evidence of an immediate threat to North Carolina wild bird populations.
Avian influenza is an infectious disease caused by viruses that occur naturally among wild aquatic birds worldwide. It can infect domestic poultry, as well as other bird and animal species. Avian flu viruses do not normally infect people; however, rare cases of human infection have occurred.
“There is absolutely no cause for alarm but we must acknowledge the federal report,” said Dr. Maria Palamar, wildlife veterinarian with the Wildlife Commission. “The probability of avian influenza occurring in North Carolina is low.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a news release on Dec. 17 that two separate strains of the H5 virus were identified in northern pintail ducks and a gyrfalcon in Washington state near the Canadian border. Neither virus has been found in commercial poultry anywhere in the United States and no human cases with these viruses have been detected in the United States, Canada or internationally. The USDA outlined ways to prevent contamination in its news release.
Although the H5 virus can be lethal to individual waterfowl, only a few large die-offs have occurred in the wild. Wildlife biologists will continue to monitor migratory bird populations.
More information on avian influenza is available at the USDA avian influenza webpage and Ducks Unlimited’s waterfowl biology webpage. For more information on waterfowl and migratory game bird hunting in North Carolina, click here.