There are no cases reported in Nebraska or anywhere in the U.S, but a strain of bird flu that’s deadly to humans has already killed 140 people in China.
The USDA’s head veterinarian, Dr. Jack Shere, says the agency is preparing to fight the strain should it be found here. Shere says it’s possible migrating wild birds could bring the killer strain over from China which is why vigilance is so important.
“We look at the 21 biggest poultry states and we test wild birds throughout the year in those states to make sure that we have an early warning notice if this virus has changed, if we got a new virus,” Shere says, “that we have we have an awareness and we can pick it up.”
An outbreak of a different strain of bird flu in 2015 resulted in the destruction of more than 48-million chickens and turkeys across the U.S., including one-point-seven million chickens in northeast Nebraska. Two flocks in Dixon County were confirmed infected.
Shere says producers need to button up their flocks.
“Basically it’s a hurdle concept,” Shere says. “What can I put in place that will prevent the virus or eliminate the virus so I don’t bring it into my facility? We have to consider the environment often as contaminated and anything we’re bringing into the house has a potential to bring the disease.”
There were bird flu outbreaks this year in Tennessee and Wisconsin, but federal health officials say the risk to people from those strains is low.