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Bird flu is discovered in northeast Nebraska once again

LINCOLN — Bird flu is resurfacing around the areas of Cedar, Dixon and Knox counties.

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture confirmed this week a case of bird flu was discovered in a commercial flock of laying hens in Dixon County.

The avian flu is a highly contagious virus that spreads easily among birds through nasal and eye secretions, as well as manure. The virus can be spread in various ways from flock to flock, including by wild birds, through contact with infected poultry, by equipment, and on the clothing and shoes of caretakers. Wild birds can carry the virus without becoming sick, while domesticated birds can become very sick.

Because the virus is highly contagious, the entire 1.8 million Dixon County flock will be “disposed of in an appropriate manner,” according to a Nebraska Department of Agriculture press release.

This is the 13th case in Nebraska this year, according to the NDA. At least 6.7 million birds have been impacted.

A six-mile control zone will also be put into place around the affected farm, as is USDA policy.

Iowa has been hit even harder by the current outbreak. More than 15 million birds have had to be destroyed in Iowa so far. This mark is on track to surpass the 2015 outbreak.

Last week, a die-off of at least a couple hundred waterfowl around Lewis & Clark Lake on the Nebraska-South Dakota border prompted state wildlife officials to issue a warning.

The public is being asked to avoid all contact with sick or dead birds encountered in that area and report them to Game and Parks, officials said.

The dead waterfowl, mostly snow geese, were first reported at the Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area Nov. 22.

State wildlife staff have collected some dead waterfowl, which are being tested for cause of death, the agency said in a press release.

A large number of snow geese are currently utilizing Lewis & Clark Lake, which is an impoundment on the Missouri River north of Crofton, and more dead or sick birds could be found over the holiday weekend.

The lake attracts a variety of waterfowl, including gulls, pelicans and bald eagles, especially during migration periods. Agriculture leaders ask bird owners to report any signs of the bird flu immediately to the appropriate agency. An avian flu outbreak hit this region back in March, as well. It was confirmed in wild geese in Cedar County by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The two agencies detected cases in March of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Cedar, Merrick and Douglas counties.