Nebraska officials are watchful for signs of a strain of bird flu that was recently discovered in two neighboring states. This influenza is highly pathogenic, meaning, it has a high death rate, particularly in turkeys and chickens.
Dr. David Schmitt, a veterinarian, says this form of bird flu was first spotted in the northwestern U-S and has made its way to backyard flocks and commercial operations in the Midwest.
“Here in the central states region, first in Minnesota and then a couple of turkey farms in Missouri, one in Arkansas, and then a backyard group of birds in Kansas,” Dr. Schmitt explains. He says waterfowl carry different types of influenza across the country.
“This one happens to be an H5N2, it’s highly pathogenic, and birds in this flyway as in other flyways, they commingle in the northern countries and they can bring it back. And when they’re coming through they stop, and they can be shedding it in their feces,” Schmitt says.
Commercial poultry operations are “very well in tune” as far as biosecurity operations, according to Schmitt, adding: “Certainly a lot of those have seen what’s going on and have even intensified and reviewed those biosecurity measures to make sure that it is not introduced into their populations of birds.”
He says the operations had biosecurity measures in place long before this outbreak in other states. The operations don’t generally allow in visitors and those personnel who do come in cannot have had any contact with birds in the last three days, and he says those who work in the facilities are not even allowed to own their own private birds.
Schmitt says anyone in Nebraska who keeps chickens or other birds privately should take precautions.
“If you are walking through areas where wild waterfowl have been and you have a backyard population, it’s extremely important to change your shoes, make sure things are clean before you walk in with any poultry,” he says.
Schmitt says the influenza cannot be transferred to humans and is not a health concern in that regard.