Bird flu has now been found on a commercial poultry farm in Nebraska, the 16th state to report cases of the virus since December.
Nebraska is the latest addition to the growing list of states where the highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza is taking a toll on the poultry stocks and businesses.
The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed that H5N2 was found in Dixon County. This particular location is found in the Central flyway where it is believed the strain of avian influenza has made its presence most felt due to bird migration.
The egg-laying farm where the avian influenza has been identified counts 1.7 million chickens and has been confirmed to be the first egg farm in the state affected by the strain.
There are 1.7 million chickens on the egg-laying farm in Dixon County, and those that have been infected will be euthanized, the Department of Agriculture said Tuesday. Since December, more than 32 million birds have been affected by the virus.
As is the standard procedure, USDA informed that federal and state partners will be following the the basic guidelines outlined in the avian influenza response plans. Firstly, quarantine ranks the highest on the priority list. The movement of poultry and equipment in and out of the control area needs to be kept under strict control.
Secondly, the affected poultry stocks are eradicated in an effort to stop the expansion of the virus. Thirdly, the region is monitored. Disinfection and killing the virus in the affected locations follows closely. Lastly, testing needs to be pursued in order to confirm that the location is free of H5N2 avian influenza.
Biosecurity procedures have been put in motion and in Dixon County the affected poultry population will be destroyed. With regards to containing the spread of the virus, previous efforts in neighboring states proved futile. In Iowa alone 26 million chickens were destroyed in response to the H5N2 infection.
However, the state is still not avian influenza free. There is no clear pattern of spreading so far and efforts are made for better understanding.
The economic aspect the infection with the H5N2 shows that the 1.1 billion dollar poultry industry in Nebraska will take a hard blow. The effects, as expected will be decrease of supply leading to rising prices. Northeast Nebraska where the H5N2 has been found hosts the majority of egg farms in the state. As an overview, Nebraska is placed 10th among states in egg production.
Thankfully, the avian influenza does not represent a threat to humans. Also, it is worth mentioning that by properly cooking poultry and derived products at internal temperatures of 165 degrees, the virus is fully eradicated.
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