Nebraska slaughters 1.8 million chickens as a result of the bird flu outbreak
The discovery of bird flu on a farm in Nebraska has prompted the state to order the slaughter of an additional 1.8 million hens, prompting officials there to warn that the outbreak, which has already resulted in the death of more than 50 million birds nationally, is still spreading.
Located around 120 miles north of Omaha, Nebraska, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture confirmed on Saturday that the state’s twelfth case of avian flu was found on an egg-laying farm in Dixon County.
As has happened on other farms this year when avian flu has been diagnosed, all the hens on the Nebraska farm will be slaughtered to prevent the spread of the disease.
The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that more than 52.3 million animals, mostly hens and turkeys on industrial farms, have been slaughtered as a result of this year’s outbreak throughout 46 states.
Nebraska has lost only slightly more birds than Iowa, with 6.8 million affected at 13 farms (15.5 million).
Though previous bird flu epidemics often died down by summer’s end, this year’s virus persisted and reappeared in the fall, killing around 6 million birds in September alone.
The majority of the virus is spread by migrating wild birds across the country. Oftentimes, wild birds can harbour the sickness without showing any symptoms. When the virus reaches the environment in the droppings or nasal discharge of an infected bird, it can contaminate dust and soil.
Even though commercial farms have established steps to prevent the spread of the virus among their flocks, such as requiring workers to change before entering barns and sterilising trucks as they approach the property, the disease can be difficult to control.
To protect their bird species, zoos have implemented safety precautions and limited exhibit space.
Officials believe there is no threat to public health from the illness because human cases of the virus are extremely rare and diseased birds are not authorised to enter the country’s food supply. Plus, viruses in poultry can be eliminated with a thorough cooking procedure up to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, the price of chicken and turkey has risen due to the bird flu outbreak, as has the price of feed and fuel.