Avian Influenza Resources for Agents
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Below is information to help you, our agents, as you talk with the news media, the public or your local producers about avian flu.
News Media Interview Tips
In answering media questions about this topic, remember the following:
- Be prepared. Even when a reporter calls for a quick phone interview, you don’t need to take that call cold. Buy a few minutes to gather your thoughts. Focus on the talking points outlined below.
- Stick to what you know. Do not venture into information where you have no expertise, but refer media to other agents or specialists who may have the information (an experts list is included at the end of this page).
- Direct reporters to the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services website (http://ncagr.gov/avianflu/) for updates and regulatory information, and remember that regulatory information is not our area of expertise.
- Write down the reporter’s name, their media outlet and phone number. This will help you know whom to contact if you need to update the information you’ve given.
Get Your Message Across
When it comes to dealing with the media, a little preparation can go a long way. Review this one-page handout for tips that will help you get your point across and stay focused.
For assistance in working with the news media, contact:
Director of Marketing and Communications, NC State Extension
Extension Marketing Specialist, NC State Extension
Communications Specialist, CALS Communications
Talking Points for Extension Agents on Avian Flu
- There is no evidence that humans can become infected with this strain of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).
- The U.S. has the best surveillance system in the world for HPAI.
- If detected, HPAI infected flocks will not enter the food chain so poultry meat and eggs will continue to be healthy, wholesome food products.
- People who own backyard or pastured poultry should keep them contained (away from wild birds).
- Poultry should have no access to surface water during the fall migration (January – April).
- Families that have poultry, ducks or quail should advise their children about biosecurity. Children should avoid contact with poultry, ducks or quail outside the home – at friends’ houses, petting zoos, etc. If children do come in contact with birds on another premises, they should wash thoroughly and avoid wearing those same clothes around their own birds.
Handling a Suspected Case of Avian Flu
The following are not talking points for the news media, but rather valuable guidance to provide producers.
If highly pathogenic avian influenza is suspected, pertinent information should be immediately reported by phone to NCDA&CS Animal Health Programs at 919-733-7601.
- NCDA&CS Diagnostic Labs – there are four locations ranging from the mountains to Raleigh that can test birds for avian flu. Contact the Animal Health Programs number above first.
Numerous organizations across North Carolina and beyond have developed educational resources regarding avian flu. We encourage you to review the following sites for a more comprehensive understanding and other materials.
- NCDA&CS Veterinary Division – Avian Influenza
- View a comprehensive FAQs page from NCDA&CS.
- USDA APHIS – Defend The Flock
- Preventing and Managing Waterfowl Damage
- NC State College of Veterinary Medicine – Avian Flu Facts
- USDA-APHIS: Veterinary Services
- N.C. Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
- NC State Prestage Department of Poultry
NC State Experts to Help Address the Issue
Extension Area Specialized Agents | Poultry (View Coverage Map and Contact)
Extension’s area specialized agents (ASA) provide topical expertise to multi-county regions, serving as a bridge between North Carolinians and unbiased, research-based information that improves lives and grows our state.
Matt Koci is an associate professor of poultry science and a virologist who studies a number of viruses including avian flu. He can address the basics of avian flu, how it affects poultry, and how to help prevent birds from contracting the virus.