US Avian Flu Hits Nebraska

US - Nebraska is the 15th state to have an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza confirmed as South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota also report new cases. The number of outbreaks nationwide stands at 158, with more than 33.33 million poultry affected.
calendar icon 14 May 2015
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On 11 and 12 May, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed a further 11 outbreaks of high-path avian flu in poultry flocks:

  • Iowa, Wright county - 713,000 commercial chickens
  • Iowa, Osceola county - backyard mixed poultry (number of birds pending)
  • Minnesota, Swift county - 65,600 commercial turkeys
  • Iowa, Sac county - commercial turkeys (number pending)
  • Iowa, Palo Alto county - commercial turkeys (number pending)
  • Minnesota, Kandiyohi county - 22,400 commercial turkeys
  • Nebraska, Dixon county - 1,700,000 commercial chickens
  • Iowa, Cherokee county - commercial turkeys (number pending)
  • Iowa, Buena Vista county - 34,500 commercial turkeys
  • Iowa, Buena Vista county - 33,900 commercial turkeys
  • Iowa, Buena Vista county - 33,300 commercial chickens

In all these outbreaks, the cause has been confirmed as the H5N2 subtype of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus of mixed Eurasian and American origin.

This is the first outbreak of avian flu in the state of Nebraska; it is linked to the Pacific flyway for migrating birds.

The other outbreaks listed above are in the area of the Mississippi flyway.

Nebraska reports first avian flu outbreak

Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) in conjunction with APHIS has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza (HPAI) in a commercial layer flock in Dixon county. The flock of 1.7 million chickens is located within the Central flyway where this strain of avian influenza has previously been identified.

NDA Director Greg Ibach, said: “Unfortunately, Nebraska has joined a long list of states currently dealing with highly pathogenic avian influenza. We are working closely with our counterparts at USDA APHIS, as well as all of our Nebraska state agency partners to ensure we are following proper protocols to address this situation. The goal is to quarantine the flock and attempt to control and contain the virus as quickly as possible.”

He said the farm has been quarantined and the birds on the property will be depopulated. NDA
will work with Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality to ensure proper disposal of dead birds.

He added: “We are moving expeditiously on this case in an effort to protect the collective Nebraska poultry industry. We will need the assistance of all poultry producers, large and small, to help with this process.”

Five new outbreaks suspected in Iowa

On 12 May, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) reported three probable cases and one confirmed case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Buena Vista, Lyon and Osceola counties.

  • Buena Vista county 14 - layer pullet farm (number of birds pending)
  • Buena Vista county 15 - turkey farm (number pending)
  • Lyon county 1 - commercial laying operation
  • Osceola county 4 - broiler farm with an estimated 700 birds.

On 13 May, IDALS reported one outbreak:

  • Sioux county 11 - a commercial laying operation with an estimated 238,000 birds.

All these farms experienced increased mortality and initial testing showed they were positive for H5 avian influenza.

The Osceola county farm has been confirmed with H5N2; additional confirmatory testing is pending from the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames.

With these new announcements, Iowa now has 50 cases of the disease in the state.

The Department has quarantined the premises and once the presence of the disease is confirmed, all birds on the property will be humanely euthanised to prevent the spread of the disease.

Two new outbreaks in South Dakota

According to South Dakota Animal Industry Board, there have been eight outbreaks of avian flu in the state, affected 400,900 birds.

The latest two outbreaks – not yet listed by APHIS – both detected on 9 May and in commercial turkeys, one in each of the counties of Yankton and Hutchinson.

Egg company supplies down by 20 per cent

Post Holdings, Inc., a consumer packaged goods holding company, reported on 12 May that chicken flocks at company-owned and third-party farms in Nebraska and Iowa, respectively, have tested positive for avian flu.

Including these two new incidents, the company estimates that approximately 20 per cent of its egg supply has been affected.

On 7 May 2015, Post provided Adjusted EBITDA guidance for fiscal 2015 of between $585.0 million and $610.0 million, which included an estimated negative impact of $20.0 million related to avian flu, based on information available at that time.

No new outbreaks suspected in Minnesota

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health has announced no new presumptive virus-positive flocks in the state over the last two days so its totals remain at more than 5.67 million poultry on 85 farms in 21 counties.

No new outbreaks in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection reported no new cases of H5 influenza on 12 or 13 May.

The total number of birds affected is over 1.76 million, comprising more than 1.11 million chickens and 652,000 turkeys (41,760 hatching eggs).

Overview of high-path avian flu outbreaks in US poultry

The following information is based on published USDA APHIS outbreak reports:

  • The latest cases bring the total number of confirmed high-path avian flu outbreaks since December 2014 to 158.
  • Outbreaks have occurred in poultry in 15 states.
  • Three of the early outbreaks were caused by the H5N8 sub-type of the virus but in almost all those since mid-February 2015, an H5N2 variant of mixed Eurasian and American origin has been confirmed.
  • The majority of outbreaks have been in commercial turkeys (112); 29 have been in commercial chickens, one in a mixed commercial flock and 16 in backyard flocks.
  • The number of poultry known to have been affected by these outbreaks now exceeds 33.33 million. This figure includes more than 27.53 million commercial chickens and 5.72 million commercial turkeys as well as 7,173 backyard poultry.
  • The disease has also affected five captive wild birds.

Further Reading

You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.

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