Avian flu case prompts killing of 1.7 million hens in northeast Nebraska

Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 5:02 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - State and federal agriculture authorities announced Wednesday that Nebraska’s sixth case of avian flu had been found on a hen farm in Dixon County.

The case was found among a flock of 1.7 million egg-laying hens in a northeast Nebraska county that are now in the process of being killed, according to a release from the Nebraska and U.S. Departments of Agriculture as well as the Plant Health Inspection Service. It’s the largest flock in the state that has been impacted by highly pathogenic avian influenza, also known as HPAI.

With the latest report, HPAI cases around the state have now caused the killing of about 2.7 million birds, including about 970,000 broiler chickens in Butler County, and dozens of other chickens or waterfowl in Merrick, Holt, and Scotts Bluff counties.

Millions of birds have also been killed in Iowa in recent months because of bird flu cases found there. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium has also taken precautions to protect its bird populations.

Per USDA policy, NDA is also establishing a 6.2-mile control zone around the Dixon County hen farm.

HPAI is a highly contagious virus among birds that spreads — through nasal and eye secretions as well as manure, or through contact with contaminated equipment, clothing, or shoes — from flock to flock. The virus can be also transmitted through wild birds without them becoming sick.

State Veterinarian Dr. Roger Dudley also said in Wednesday’s release that the authorities had lifted surveillance procedures in Merrick, Holt counties, and the control zone in Butler County as well.

State ag authorities encourage anyone who sees signs of bird flu to call them at 402-471-2351; or contact the USDA at 866-536-7593, or reach out to your local veterinarian.

Symptoms of HPAI in poultry include sudden death, decreased water consumption, lack of energy and appetite, decreased or odd egg production, signs of a “cold,” incoordination, or diarrhea.

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