North Carolina is suspending poultry shows and public sales until further notice because of growing concerns over a highly contagious strain of the bird flu.

The virus known as highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI, was first detected in January in a wild duck in Eastern North Carolina. Since late March, it has been found at seven commercial poultry facilities in Johnston and Wayne counties. More than 90,000 turkeys and more than 280,000 broilers have been killed and composted on-site to prevent further spread of the virus.

Because of the increase in cases, the state recently announced a suspension of all poultry shows and public sales. That includes farm tours, exhibitions, swaps and flea markets.

North Carolina joins several other states, including Georgia, that have also canceled or altered poultry events due to HPAI. Heather Overton is with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

She says poultry owners need to practice strict biosecurity like keeping flocks indoors, limiting visitors, and reporting sick birds to your local veterinarian, or the agency.

“This is something that the entire state should be concerned about. Mainly because the flyway where these migratory birds come across North Carolina is the entire state,” says Overton.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this type of HPAI virus is considered a low risk to people. The CDC says it's not considered a food safety threat and infected birds do not enter the food supply.

Some symptoms to look out for in birds are swelling of the head, eyelids, difficulty breathing and reduced energy.

North Carolina ranked number one in the country for all poultry and egg cash receipts in 2020.

Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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