Nebraska Reports Bird Flu in Merrick County Backyard Flock | Local business news

Nebraska has reported its first case of highly pathogenic avian influenza in domestic birds.

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture said Wednesday the disease was discovered in a backyard herd in Merrick County.

“Unfortunately, Nebraska has joined a long list of states currently dealing with highly pathogenic avian influenza,” said Steve Wellman, director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

He said state officials are working closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure proper protocols are followed to help control the spread of the disease.

State Veterinarian Roger Dudley said the flock, which was described as small and mixed, has been quarantined and the birds will be euthanized and disposed of. All poultry producers within a 6.2-mile surveillance zone around the affected site will also be required to follow enhanced biosecurity measures and be alert for signs of avian flu.

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The disease has so far killed nearly 7 million chickens and turkeys in 13 states, including nearly a million in Iowa. Prior to Wednesday, Nebraska had not recorded a case in a commercial or backyard flock, although there were three confirmed cases in wild geese, including one in Lincoln on March 7 that was the first evidence of disease in the state.

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The last major bird flu outbreak in the United States was in 2015. It killed an estimated 50 million chickens and turkeys, including more than 5 million in Nebraska, driving up egg prices and meat. Bird flu has hit more than 200 farms in 15 states, costing the federal government about $1 billion and the poultry industry about $3 billion.

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The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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