States across the Midwest that were hit by avian influenza earlier this year are bracing for the fall migration of wild waterfowl that will soon begin. Bird flu is believed to be spread by ducks and geese as they pass through.
Bobbie Kriz-Wickham, Nebraska’s assistant director of agriculture, says even though the state was not hit as hard as others, they want to be prepared.
“Our poultry sector, even though it’s smaller, for those folks that were impacted, it was a big impact,” Kriz-Wickham says. “So it’s very important to us that we can help them think about their biosecurity measures this fall.”
Kriz-Wickham says the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a fall plan last week which builds on the lessons learned from the earlier outbreak. The plan reinforces efforts by the agency and poultry producers to focus on increases surveillance and biosecurity to prevent another outbreak.
“USDA’s put a lot of work into coming up with some best practices,” she says. “We’re having the industry folks in next week to talk about some of the things they can do to protect themselves even more so and I’m hearing that poultry producers are taking measures to do just that.”
Kriz-Wickham says the plan emphasizes the need to respond quickly to prevent rapid spread of the disease.
Nebraska’s poultry industry is worth an estimated $1.1-billion dollars a year.
Two major poultry operations in northeast Nebraska’s Dixon County were hit by outbreaks of bird flu this year. More than three-and-a-half million chickens died or were destroyed, along with another one-and-a-half million pullets.
Next door, Iowa was the worst-hit state by bird flu, with more than 70 outbreaks in 18 counties that resulted in the loss of more than 34-million birds.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton