Avian Flu Fact Sheet: DEQ's Role

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DEQ's Role

  • The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will be the lead state agency if North Carolina is impacted by avian flu. As the state’s chief environmental regulatory agency, DEQ will provide guidance to farmers and others to minimize risks to public health and the environment during an outbreak.  
  • DEQ has a lengthy history of responding to statewide emergencies and is prepared to handle an outbreak of avian flu. 
  • DEQ staff have created an interagency task force and developed a guidance document to help DEQ and its partner agencies effectively stop the spread of avian flu while protecting public health and the environment. 
  • The interagency task force has undergone training to assist the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and other state agencies should the state experience an outbreak of avian flu.
  • The task force is comprised of teams from DEQ’s executive leadership and staff members from all seven of the department’s regions in North Carolina. 
  • Each region will have two teams, with four professional staff members on each team. Teams will be made up of DEQ staff from the state divisions of Waste Management, Water Resources, Air Quality and Energy, Mineral and Land Resources. DEQ staff members were selected for teams based on their knowledge and experience in environmental protection during animal disease outbreaks, biohazards and waste disposal.
  • The role of the task force will be to advise other state agencies and ensure that DEQ works with our partner agencies to stop the spread of the virus in a way that best protects public health, the environment and the poultry industry. Task force members will use DEQ’s guidance document to help carry out its responsibilities during an outbreak of avian flu.  
  • DEQ staff will be primarily involved with the protection of groundwater and surface water resources during the processes of decontamination and disposal, and the transport or rendering of infected birds, waste, feed and other materials. 
  • Avian influenza is caused by an influenza type A virus which can infect poultry (such as chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, domestic ducks, geese and guinea fowl) and is carried by free-flying waterfowl such as ducks, geese and shorebirds. 
  • There is an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza circulating in the United States that is dangerous for flocks of poultry. 
  • The outbreak has not been detected in North Carolina. However, the infection has been shown to be carried by wild migratory waterfowl that are known to migrate to North Carolina as early as September.
  • The types of avian influenza known to be in the U.S. now have not affected humans. However, many livestock and poultry diseases are highly contagious and can be spread by people unknowingly through contact with contaminated shoes, clothing, vehicles and equipment.