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Guest - DENR, state partners prepared for potential spread of Avian flu to N.C. - Environmentally Speaking

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DENR, state partners prepared for potential spread of Avian flu to N.C.

DENR has formed a task force to protect public health and the environment in the event that Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, or HPAI, reaches North Carolina.   

 

HPAI, also known as avian flu, is a virus that can affect many free-flying birds, including domestic poultry. It has already impacted birds in the United States and has been particularly devastating to the poultry industries in Iowa and Minnesota. The virus has not been detected in North Carolina, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that more than 48 million birds in 15 states have been affected.

 

North Carolina officials are monitoring the status of the virus closely because of the extreme and unprecedented impact it could have on the state’s economy if it reaches the Tar Heel State. North Carolina’s poultry industry contributes $34 billion to the economy and supports about 109,000 jobs.

 

HPAI response efforts require careful environmental planning. DENR’s long history of emergency response has positioned the agency to quickly and efficiently respond to such a crisis and its environmental impacts.    

 

DENR’s HPAI task force has designed specific guidance in collaboration with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services on how to address a possible virus outbreak while protecting public health, the environment and the poultry industry, including recommendations on biosecurity, decontamination, burial, composting and disposal of infected birds and litter.

 

DENR’s role in an HPAI outbreak would involve environmentally safe virus inactivation and transport and disposal of infected birds, feed, waste and related materials. DENR is in contact with state and local agencies, including the N.C. Department of Transportation, and the private disposal industry to prepare them with information related to the disposal and resource needs associated with an HPAI outbreak.

 

DENR staff recently traveled to Minnesota, where HPAI has had severe statewide effects, for input from that state’s recent experience.  DENR staff members continue to be in contact with representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Minnesota’s HPAI incident command, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, and the Iowa Department of Environment.

 

DENR’s HPAI/avian flu guidance is available at: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/guest/avian-influenza.

 

The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ HPAI/avian flu web information is available at: http://www.ncagr.gov/avianflu/. 

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