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Warning issued after highly contagious avian flu detected in flock in Nebraska; flu caused spike in egg prices in 2022

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Warning issued after highly contagious avian flu detected in flock in Nebraska; flu caused spike in egg prices in 2022

Nov 29, 2023 | 12:11 pm ET
By Paul Hammel
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Warning issued after highly contagious avian flu detected in flock in Nebraska; flu caused spike in egg prices in 2022
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Avian flu is again infecting flocks across the country, a virus that forced the slaughter of 58 million domestic birds last year. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

LINCOLN — State officials are urging vigilance after a strain of deadly avian flu was discovered in a small backyard flock in Colfax County.

Neighboring states

Birds affected by the avian flu in Nebraska and several neighboring states during the last 30 days:

Iowa: 2.8 million

Minnesota: 1.5 million

South Dakota: 700,000

Missouri: 45,900

Nebraska: 20

Kansas: None

Source: USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

The warning from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture comes amid several confirmed cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in the nearby states of Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota.

The deadly flu forced the slaughter of nearly 58 million birds last year, according to the Associated Press, though the death toll has been much smaller this year.

The loss of laying hens caused a spike in egg prices, which more than doubled in 2022.

“Poultry producers need to continue to be vigilant in protecting their flocks,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Roger Dudley in a press release.

He urged good biosecurity measures to help prevent the spread of the disease.

Avian flu spreads easily among birds, according to the Ag Department, through nasal and eye secretions, as well as manure. Wild birds, through contact with infected poultry, can spread the virus to domestic flocks, but it can also spread via equipment, and clothing and shoes of caretakers.

Wild birds can carry the virus without becoming sick, the department said. while domesticated birds can become very sick and die. HPAI can survive for weeks in contaminated environments.

Poultry producers can get more information at https://nda.nebraska.gov/animal/avian/index.html which includes an updated map of HPAI cases in Nebraska.

Signs of HPAI or unusual deaths should be reported to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture at 402-471-2351 or the USDA at 866-536-7593.