LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — Cases of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) continue to pop up in the Heartland, and on Wednesday the Nebraska Department of Agriculture announced confirmed cases in Cedar, Douglas and Merrick counties.
Recent infections include a confirmed case of HPAI in a backyard flock in the rural central Nebraska county of Merrick, as well as confirmed cases from wild geese in the rural northeast Cedar County along the South Dakota border. Avian influenza detected in Douglas County was also from wild geese and not a domestic or commercial flock.
The Merrick County farm with the confirmed case of HPAI in its backyard flock is under quarantine and the NDA has instituted a 6.2-mile surveillance zone around its premises. Additionally, "the birds will be humanely depopulated and disposed of in an approved manner," stated an NDA press release.
Last week, a Taylor County, Iowa commercial flock of nearly one million hens was found to be infected with avian influenza, causing Gov. Kim Reynolds to issue a disaster proclamation.
The virus is highly contagious and transmissible through nasal and eye secretions, manure and can settle among dust particles, meaning that the spread isn't limited to just direct contact. Clothing, equipment, tools and shoes can all transport the virus if it comes in direct contact with infected birds and the related debris.
Therefore, the NDA and USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) have stressed the importance of good biosecurity practices to prevent the spread of the bird flu by restricting access to poultry and property from wild birds or other flocks and properly disinfecting tools and clothing.
Those who own poultry should monitor for signs of HPAI including lack of energy and appetite for food and water, degraded quality and quantity of eggs, nasal discharge or sudden death, among others.