Another commercial flock in Nebraska infected by avian flu

By: - November 28, 2022 5:20 pm

Ray Avila feeds chickens on his farm on Aug. 9, 2014, near Osage, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

OMAHA — The highly contagious, lethal avian influenza has struck another commercial flock in Nebraska, the state Department of Agriculture has reported.

The disease affected a flock of 1.8 million laying hens in Dixon County, officials said.

That increases the total number of flocks affected in Nebraska to 13 and the number of birds affected in the state to 6.76 million, including chickens, game birds and other poultry, in both commercial and backyard flocks.

HPAI, or highly pathogenic avian influenza, spreads through nasal and eye secretions, as well as manure. It can spread in different ways from flock to flock, including by wild birds, through contact with infected poultry, equipment or caretakers’ clothing and shoes.

Wild birds can carry the virus without getting sick, while domesticated birds can become very sick, state experts say. 

Before this year, Nebraska hadn’t seen a confirmed HPAI case since 2015. The first wave of reports this year occurred between mid-March and April. After a quiet summer, additional cases flared up beginning in September.

The latest case was announced Nov. 26 by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, working with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk of the flu being transmitted from birds to people is low. Among the symptoms of the disease are:

  • Decreased water consumption.
  • Lack of energy and appetite.
  • Decreased egg production or soft-shelled, misshapen eggs.
  • Nasal discharge, coughing or sneezing.
  • Incoordination.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Sudden death even without other symptoms.

For more information or to report sick birds call (402) 471-2351. Early detection is vital in preventing the spread of the disease, officials said.

Cases confirmed this year by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture:

  1. March 15: A mixed backyard flock of fewer than 100 chickens and waterfowl in Merrick County.
  2. March 22: A commercial flock of 570,000 broiler chickens (for meat production) in Butler County. 
  3. March 24: A commercial flock of about 417,000 broilers in Butler County.
  4. March 26: A backyard flock of 50 or fewer chickens and waterfowl in Holt County.
  5. April 5: About 30 birds, a mix of chickens and waterfowl, in a backyard flock in Scotts Bluff County.
  6. April 12: 1.7 million laying hens in Dixon County.
  7. April 27: 2.1 million laying hens in Knox County.
  8. April 28: A backyard flock of 55 or fewer birds in a mixed flock in Washington County.
  9. Sept. 19: A backyard flock of 50 or fewer chickens in Dawes County.
  10. Oct. 3: 159,000 game birds in a commercial flock in York County.
  11. Oct. 3: A backyard flock of 100 or fewer chickens in Box Butte County.
  12. Oct. 21: 33,500 game birds in York County.

Nov. 26: 1.8 million laying hens in Dixon County.

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Cate Folsom
Cate Folsom

Editor-in-Chief Cate Folsom has more than 40 years of experience in daily journalism, spending the bulk of that time at the Omaha World-Herald. She worked in various roles, including features writer, copy editor, Washington Bureau reporter, assistant city editor, investigative team editor, metro-regional editor and editorial page editor.