How to get your flock tested for bird flu and paid for any losses

Experts also share why they expect the spread to slow down this summer

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The avian flu returned to our state back in March when the Nebraska Department of Agriculture found its first confirmed case in a wild goose near Holmes Lake in Lincoln.

Five outbreaks across Nebraska have since been confirmed.  Two of the outbreaks affected commercial flocks, taking out nearly a million birds.  The other three outbreaks affected backyard flocks kept by private citizens.

Experts say waterfowl are particularly prone to transmitting the virus, which can be spread by getting on tires of vehicles and the boots of the owner.

Waterfowl often don’t exhibit any clinical signs either, which is why it’s even more important to keep flocks away from water sources used by wild birds.

Infected birds may appear to lack energy or have a decrease in their diet.  Eggs may be misshaped or soft-shelled.  Wattles, combs and legs could swell and turn purple.  Diarrhea and respiratory issues may also occur.  Early diagnosis can save birds and prevent further outbreaks.

If you suspect a flock has contracted avian flu, contact Roger Dudley, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s state veterinarian, at roger.dudley@nebraska.gov or call the U.S. Department of Agriculture at 1-866-536-7593. Don Reynolds is also an available contact at dreynolds2@unl.edu or 402-472-8810.

If your flock is suspected of having the avian flu, a technician will visit, at no cost, and test a swab from the birds windpipes.  Results will come back within 24 hours.  If the swab comes back positive, the sample will be sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory for further confirmation.

If the second test comes back positive, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and the USDA form a 10 kilometer radius around the initial test site and test each bird.  Birds who test positive are humanely killed and properly disposed of.  Bird owners receive an indemnity payment.

Although the H5 avian flu can be transmitted to humans, there have been no human cases since the start of the 2022 outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The avian flu is particularly prevalent in the spring because waterfowl migrate through waterways.  The spread is likely to calm down in the summer.

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