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.
Thank you for all you are doing to help our state’s citizens during this critical time.
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, his or her 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, N.C. Cooperative Extension Service
firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-515-1371
News Editor, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications
email@example.com or 919-513-3126
Media Specialist, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications
firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-513-3117
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.
- North Carolina has not had HPAI to date.
- 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) during September and October.
- Poultry should have no access to surface water during the fall migration (September and October).
- 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 telephone 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.
Following are recorded presentations from an avian flu information session held September 1, 2015. Dr. Donna Carver, Extension veterinarian in NC State’s Prestage Department of Poultry Science, discusses avian flu risk management guidelines, while Dr. Mandy Tolson, Southeast veterinary specialist with NCDA&CS, reviews the state’s response plan and ways to plan and prepare.
NC State Experts to Help Address the Issue
Donna Carver is an Extension veterinarian in the Prestage Department of Poultry Science. She can address the basics of avian flu, how it affects poultry, and how to protect flocks from contracting the virus.