WASHINGTON, May 12, 2015 – The avian influenza outbreak spreading across the country has now entered its 14th and 15th states, increasing its reach to Indiana and Nebraska.
Avian influenza – also known as bird flu – first appeared in the U.S. in December, when the H5N8 strain was discovered in Oregon. Since then, the H5N2 strain has done the most damage to the nation’s poultry flocks, affecting more than 32 million birds on its own.
USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced the most recent detections in Indiana and Nebraska this week. It is the first detection of a strain of the disease in both states.
The detection in Indiana is first finding of the H5N8 strain of the disease in about three months and the first detection of the strain in the Mississippi flyway. The disease was detected in a backyard flock of mixed species poultry, and APHIS has not announced the size of the flock.
In Nebraska, a flock of 1.7 million chickens will be depopulated after the H5N2 strain of the disease was confirmed by testing at South Dakota State University’s Animal Disease Research & Diagnostic Laboratory and the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa. The flock was located in Dixon County, in Northeast Nebraska just across the border from South Dakota and mere miles from Iowa, two states where the disease has already been detected.
In keeping with established protocols for preventing the spread of the disease, both flocks will be quarantined and depopulated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the risk to people from these and all other detected infections to be “low.” No human infections of the disease have been detected.
Since the disease was first discovered in Oregon’s Douglas County in December, there have been 148 detections affecting about 32.5 million chickens and turkeys in 15 states. Minnesota has had the most cases of the disease (78), but Iowa has lost the most birds (almost 24 million), hitting the state’s laying hen population the hardest.
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