The Nebraska Department of Agriculture announced Saturday that all poultry events will be canceled statewide because of the bird flu.
The order, which comes after a fourth farm was reported infected with the virus, states that birds of any type are not permitted at events such as fairs, expositions and live bird auctions until at least May 1, when the order will be reevaluated.
Bird flu had previously been found in several wild geese and a mixed backyard flock in Merrick County, but its discovery in commercial poultry operations has upped the stakes in Nebraska.
In the last week, the state Agriculture Department quarantined a farm in Butler County and all 570,000 birds were humanely destroyed. The disease was later found to have infected a flock of 400,000 broiler chickens within the quarantine area.
In the latest case reported, a small flock of mixed chickens and waterfowl was infected in Holt County.
The ag department encourages bird owners to prevent contact between their birds and wildlife and to report any signs of bird flu in their flocks. Symptoms include a decrease in water consumption, soft-shelled eggs, nasal discharge, and lack of energy and appetite.
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The order is effective immediately and will stay in effect until May 1, when it will be re-evaluated. It prohibits birds of any kind to be at events including fairs, expositions, swap meets, exotic sales, and live bird auctions.
Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Steve Wellman says it’s an important step to protect poultry production.
“The decision to cancel poultry events was not taken lightly but is a necessary step to assure we are doing everything possible to protect our poultry producers, both small and large,” Wellman said. “Poultry producers should continue to take biosecurity measures on their farms to help prevent the spread of the disease into their flock.”
Officials state the symptoms in poultry vary from a decrease in water consumption, lack of energy and appetite, decreased egg production or soft-shelled, misshapen eggs, nasal discharge, coughing, sneezing, incoordination, diarrhea, and even sudden death in birds.