Half-million chickens in Nebraska to be killed after bird flu found in flock

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — A flock of 570,000 broiler chickens in Butler County will be killed after highly pathogenic avian influenza was found among them, according to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

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

Dr. Roger Dudley, the state veterinarian, said the farm noticed that more chickens were dying than normal, quarantined the facility and contacted the Agriculture Department.

The birds will be humanely killed and disposed of, the department said.

In addition, producers within a 6.2-mile radius of the farm won’t be allowed to move birds or poultry products on or off their premises without permission from the department.

The bird flu was found in a backyard flock in Merrick County last week, and infections have also been confirmed in wild geese at Holmes Lake and in Cedar and Douglas counties.

The virus spreads easily among birds through nasal and eye secretions, as well as manure. It can spread from flock to flock in various ways, including by wild birds, by equipment, and on the clothing and shoes of caretakers.

Symptoms of the bird flu include a decrease in water consumption; loss of energy and appetite; decreased egg production or soft-shelled, misshapen eggs; nasal discharge; coughing; sneezing; incoordination; and diarrhea.

Birds can also die suddenly without showing symptoms.

READ MORE: Nebraska poultry farmers warned of bird flu

To prevent the flu from spreading, poultry producers are urged to restrict access to their property and to scrub their shoes and wash their hands before and after contact with their flock.

Poultry owners should report unusual bird deaths or sick birds to the State Agriculture Department at 402-471-2351 or to the U.S. Department of Agriculture at 866-536-7593.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the risk of people contracting the virus from birds is low. No human cases of bird flu have been detected in the U.S.

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