North Carolina's Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler announced on Jan. 7 that the suspension of live poultry shows and sales has been lifted, a week earlier than when the ban was set to expire. Troxler also released the registration requirements for small flock owners.
“I promised at the beginning that we would review the ban in January, and now it looks as if it is safe to go ahead and lift the restrictions,” said Troxler.
The suspension and registration requirements were originally put in place to guard against the introduction and spread of highly pathogenic avian flu after almost 50 million birds in the Midwest died or were depopulated due to the disease outbreak. The N.C. suspension was announced in June, during the height of the Midwest outbreak, to allow people time to prepare for the changes. The statewide ban, in place since Aug. 15, included poultry shows at the N.C. State Fair, Mountain State Fair and county fairs, live bird auctions, poultry swap meets and other places live birds were on display. Private sales between individuals were allowed to continue.
In August, the department added a requirement for small flock owners to register their flocks, although there was no penalty for not registering. This was to help the department in planning and mapping purposes and to facilitate alerting poultry owners about an outbreak, especially small flocks in close proximity to a positive farm. This requirement has been dropped; however, poultry owners can still voluntarily register to receive updates in case of an outbreak.
HPAI has not been found in the U.S. since June, but poultry health experts haven’t ruled out the possibility of a reintroduction by migratory birds.
“While we are allowing public poultry swap meets and shows to resume, we will consider putting the ban back in place if the national situation changes,” Troxler said. “Our commercial poultry industry is integral to our state’s economy and we must also protect more than 4,000 small flocks.”
Bird owners are encouraged to maintain biosecurity measures that have been put into place, including keeping domestic birds away from wild birds, using dedicated footwear for entering chicken coops or poultry houses, monitoring closely for signs of the disease and more. The department developed a web page to keep bird owners informed of new information, at www.ncagr.gov/avianflu/.