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Emergency Funding To Help State Monitor Deadly Poultry Disease

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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina's poultry industry generates more than $2 billion a year. State officials fear a deadly disease could wipe it out.

Exotic Newcastle Disease does not hurt people, but it kills poultry.

"The disease is so fast-acting that [the birds] literally die before even showing clinical signs," said Dr. David Marshall, a state veterinarian.

Tuesday, Gov. Mike Easley granted the North Carolina Department of Agriculture more than $260,000 in emergency funds to help monitor for the disease.

An outbreak of the disease has entered its sixth month in California, where 600 full time state and federal workers are fighting it.

"We feel like we are potentially 24 hours away from a potentially infectious bird that could be in California today and could be in North Carolina tomorrow," Marshall said.

USDA secretary Ann Veneman has declared the outbreak an extraordinary emergency. The new funds in N.C. will allow for more testing, investigators and surveillance.

Were the disease to find its way to North Carolina, it may be first confirmed at the Rollins Animal Diagnostic Laboratory in Raleigh.

"The most obvious sign that you would see would be dead birds. You would have high mortality in your flock," said Dr. Jo Anna Quinn of the N.C.Department of Agriculture.

The mortality rate could be as high as 90 percent.

North Carolina is the nation's number two turkey producing state and the number four broiler producer.


Dan Wilkinson, Reporter
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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