Deb Scholten, director of the Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department in Wayne, says they worked with employees at the poultry farms in Dixon County that had bird flu outbreaks last spring.
“We monitored the workers that were closely exposed to the sick and dying poultry at the operations where it hit here in our state,” Scholten says. “We modeled our monitoring protocols after Minnesota’s because they had already gone through all of this.”
Scholten says they had extensive contacts with the employees at the two Nebraska poultry facilities that had to deal with the bird flu outbreaks.
“We called our at-risk workers every single day for almost seven weeks,” she says. “We monitored them every five days towards the end. Most of them did volunteer to take the Tamiflu so that it would help to relieve any symptoms if they would get any sort of respiratory illness.”
While no people were reported sick during the bird flu outbreaks, Scholten says there is always concern about an animal virus making the jump to humans.
“If you have a cold or some kind of a virus and you have those two exposures of the virus, there’s a possibility that those viruses could get together and do some reassortment and then it would be problematic for humans, too,” she says. “That’s what we’re trying to prevent.”
One-point-seven millon chickens were destroyed after the flocks in northeast Nebraska were infected this spring. There is concern migrating wild birds — ducks and geese — will bring another round of avian flu as they make their way south this fall.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton