Raleigh, N.C. — State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler told lawmakers Tuesday that he expects migrating waterfowl to bring the avian flu to North Carolina this fall.
The current outbreak of avian influenza has involved two highly contagious strains, H5N2 and H5N8, that have infected poultry operations across the Midwest and in California. So far, 15 states have reported cases of it, with Indiana being the most recent.
According to Reuters, at least 30 million birds have either died of the disease or have been killed in efforts to halt its spread.
Troxler told the Senate Agriculture Committee the virus has not yet shown up in North Carolina, but he believes the state will see it by fall, "spread through wild populations of poultry and waterfowl."
Eastern North Carolina is part of what's known as the "Southern flyway," a major migratory path for wild birds.
Troxler said the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is preparing to protect the state's large poultry industry from the "devastating disease." He said three teams from North Carolina have been working in Minnesota, helping that state's agriculture department battle a massive outbreak there.
"North Carolina has literally helped save the Minnesota poultry industry," he said.