ROCKY MOUNT, Va. (WFXR) — Poultry farms are on high alert after recent discoveries of bird flu in northern Virginia and several nearby states, including the Carolinas.

According to a trade site, the Virginia poultry industry contributes $12 billion to the Commonwealth’s economy and provides jobs for more than 53,000 people.

This lethal version of avian flu could also hurt consumers’ wallets. Farmers say this could double the price of chicken and eggs.

Some small farmers say they aren’t too worried about this, but it could affect pricing.

According to Janice Walke, a poultry farm owner with Stone Soup Farm in Rocky Mount, “If chicken flocks are being killed off because they’re considered unsafe, even if they’re egg-laying birds, that affects the egg supply as well. So that means those 99-cent eggs you get at the grocery store, you may not be able to get those anymore.”

(Photo: Amanda Lee/WFXR News)

Experts say this virus is carried by migratory birds but it can spread to others, which is why the Virginia Cooperative Extension is encouraging all farmers in the Commonwealth to practice biosecurity.

WFXR News’ Amanda Lee spoke with Agriculture Natural Resource Agent for the Virginia Cooperative Extension Shawn Jadrnicek.

“It’s really important for any flock owners, poultry, chickens, ducks, turkeys, anyone who has birds at their house to keep those birds indoors,” said Jadrnicek.

Jadrnicek says some symptoms of the bird flu include reduced feed intake, reduced egg production, swelling, sneezing, coughing, and nasal discharge.

If you notice any of these symptoms, you’re asked to report them right away to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 804-786-2483.

“Any bird owners or anyone who has contact with birds should be very concerned and follow good biosecurity measures so they don’t continue the spread of this disease,” said Jadrnicek.

To avoid this, he also recommends not allowing your birds to access ponds and wetlands and using designated equipment and clothing when handling them.

Jadrnicek says there is no increased risk for public health, just a potential for price increases at area supermarkets and grocery stores.