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'Not completely unexpected': Avian flu detected in Nebraska commercial flock

The disease is highly pathogenic, causing severe illness
US Bird Flu
Posted at 11:53 AM, Mar 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-22 12:53:00-04

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) in conjunction with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is announced a confirmed case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in a commercial flock of 570,000 broilers in Butler County.

In a press release, NDA said that HPAI is a highly contagious virus that spreads easily among birds through nasal and eye secretions, as well as manure. The virus can be spread in various ways from flock to flock, including by wild birds, through contact with infected poultry, by equipment, and on the clothing and shoes of caretakers. Wild birds can carry the virus without becoming sick, while domesticated birds can become very sick.

“Having a second farm in Nebraska confirmed to have HPAI is unfortunate, but not completely unexpected,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman. “NDA will use all the resources at our disposal, in coordination with our federal partners to manage a quick response.”

According to NDA State Veterinarian Dr. Roger Dudley, since the initial threat of HPAI in the United States, the farm has increased its biosecurity and heightened its observational testing and upon noticing a larger than normal death loss, immediately quarantined their facility and contacted NDA.

The farm is under NDA quarantine and the birds will be humanely depopulated and disposed of in an approved manner. Additionally, NDA will be establishing a 6.2-mile control zone around the infected premises. Premises with poultry that fall within that control zone will not be allowed to move birds or poultry products on or off their premises without permission from NDA. These producers should also know the signs and symptoms of HPAI and notify NDA immediately of sick or dying poultry.

Symptoms of HPAI in poultry include a decrease in water consumption; lack of energy and appetite; decreased egg production or soft-shelled, misshapen eggs; nasal discharge, coughing, sneezing; incoordination; and diarrhea. HPAI can also cause sudden death in birds even if they aren’t showing any other symptoms. HPAI can survive for weeks in contaminated environments.

Poultry owners should report unusual poultry bird deaths or sick birds to NDA at 402-471-2351, or through USDA at 866-536-7593.

Enhanced biosecurity helps prevent the introduction and spread of viruses and diseases including HPAI. NDA and USDA have resources available to help poultry owners step up their biosecurity efforts.

  • Know the warning signs of infectious bird diseases like HPAI. Be on the lookout for unusual signs of behavior, severe illness and/or sudden deaths.
  • Restrict access to your property and poultry.
  • Keep it clean. Wear clean clothes, scrub boots/shoes with disinfectant and wash hands thoroughly before and after contact with your flock.
  • If you, your employees or family have been on other farms, or other places where there is livestock and/or poultry, clean and disinfect your vehicle tires and equipment before returning home.
  • Don’t share equipment, tools, or other supplies with other livestock or poultry owners.
  • In addition to practicing good biosecurity, all bird owners should prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, making sure wild birds cannot access domestic poultry’s feed and water sources.
  • Report sick birds immediately to: NDA at 402-471-2351; the USDA at 866-536-7593; or your veterinarian. Early detection is important to prevent the spread of disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk to people getting HPAI infections from birds is low. No human cases of avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States.

All poultry entering Nebraska must be accompanied by a VS form 9-3 or Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI, or health certificate). If you are considering moving an animal into Nebraska from an affected state, please call 402-471-2351 to learn more. Nebraska poultry owners wanting to ship poultry out of state should consult the state veterinarians of the destination states for import requirements.

For more information about avian influenza, visit NDA’s website at or the USDA’s website.

Additional information on biosecurity for backyard flocks can be found at healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov

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