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USDA Confirms Bird Flu in Northeast Nebraska; Flock of 1.7 Million Chickens to be Destroyed

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has confirmed that the avian flu strain H5N2 has been detected in Dixon County, Nebraska, and that a flock of 1.7 million chickens will be destroyed.

“Unfortunately, Nebraska has joined a long list of states currently dealing with highly pathogenic avian influenza,” Agriculture Director Greg Ibach said.

The disease first hit Iowa in mid-April leading to the death or culling of 25 million birds, or 40% of the state’s egg laying flock.

Following USDA protocol, the name of the affected company in Nebraska has not been released, but Dixon County, Nebraska is home to Michael Foods Egg Products Co. – a large scale egg producer in Wakefield.

The disease was first detected in Nebraska in December, 2014. Since that time, there have been 156 detections affecting 32.6 million birds across 15 states. The affected facility immediately established its own state of quarantine, and state officials have established a 6.2 mile quarantine zone surrounding the farm to stop the movement of poultry within the radius. The state is also setting up a secondary 12.4 mile area of surveillance and officials are surveying local farmers and testing for signs of infection in flocks. State officials are also alerting owners of backyard and hobby flocks of the confirmation of the disease, and informing them of the protocols for identifying and containing the disease.

In addition to Michael Foods, Nebraska is also home to other large poultry processors including Henningsen Foods in Omaha and Nebraska Eggs in Carroll. The state is also home to 17 commercial turkey farms that produce approximately 4 million birds per year.

The Centers for Disease Control have stated that the disease is low risk for humans, as poultry products have been washed and pasteurized before reaching retail markets making them safe for human consumption.

The USDA funds the disposal and removal of dead birds from affected facilities and pays producers for birds that either die or need to be culled as a result of the disease.

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