Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is a virus that infects fowl. It is so virulent that it moves quickly between birds and can kill an entire flock in just a few days. Wild birds, domestic poultry, and other animals carry the virus. HPAI is currently considered a seasonal threat, thought to be transmitted from wild waterfowl to domestic poultry as the fowl travel for seasonal migration. Wild bird migration patterns and lower fall temperatures make it very likely that wild birds from recently infected areas in Canada will travel south through the Atlantic flyway through North and South Carolina this fall. Due to the seasonality and severity of the risk, the NCDA has canceled all live bird shows and sales between August 15th and January 15th. This strain of the disease does not infect humans or other livestock.
Many chicken and turkey flocks, pastured and conventional, across the Northwest and Midwest have been decimated by the rapid spread of the disease. Coordinated emergency response to the disease by the government has been key to reducing the number of infected birds and reducing farmers’ losses of livestock.