North Carolina has been declared free of “bird flu” by the World Organization for Animal Health after a dairy herd in North Carolina tested positive for the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, or “H5N1” as it is better known, earlier this year.

An independent flock (poultry) in Guilford County was confirmed positive on March 28th, and two commercial turkey flocks were confirmed positive, according to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

In a matter of weeks, North Carolina was the seventh state where a dairy herd tested positive for H5N1. The other states with positive herds are Texas, Kansas, Michigan, Idaho, New Mexico, and Ohio. One person was also confirmed positive in Texas on April 1st, as reported by Carolina Journal. 

Now that North Carolina has been declared free of the virus, exports and international trade of poultry products can resume. Previously, Dr. Michael Martin, North Carolina State Veterinarian and the director of the veterinary division at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture told the Carolina Journal in an interview that North Carolina had instituted a ban on cattle originating from any infected herd. 

“This designated status change is a welcome one from the standpoint of trade, but it is important to note that the virus causing HPAI is still present within wild bird populations in our state,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, in a press release. “Poultry owners are encouraged to continue to follow strict biosecurity measures and monitor their flocks for signs of illness. Steps should be taken to minimize exposure to wild birds as much as possible.” 

Broilers (chickens raised for meat) are the top agricultural commodity in North Carolina with over 976.2 million raised in the state annually and representing more than $6.8 billion in cash receipts for farmers every year, according to a press release. North Carolina ranks No. 1 in the nation in poultry and egg cash receipts and is the second-largest turkey-producing state, raising more than 28 million annually. Last year, poultry and poultry exports were worth $353.5 million. 

Poultry owners should report flocks with high mortality to the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Veterinary Division, 919-707-3250 (Option 2) or the N.C. Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System 919-733-3986.