The latest indication that the outbreak, which has already led to the slaughter of more than 50 million birds nationwide, is still spreading, according to Nebraska agriculture officials, is the discovery of bird flu on a farm, which has forced the state to order the killing of an additional 1.8 million chickens.
The thirteenth case of bird flu in Nebraska was discovered on an egg-laying farm in Dixon County, northeastern Nebraska, some 120 miles (193 kilometers) north of Omaha, Nebraska, according to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture on Saturday.
All the chickens on the Nebraska farm will be put to death to stop the spread of the disease, just like on other farms where bird flu has been discovered this year.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this year’s outbreak has resulted in the slaughter of more than 52.3 million animals across 46 states, primarily hens and turkeys on industrial farms.
With 6.8 million birds currently impacted at 13 farms, Nebraska has killed only slightly more birds than Iowa (15.5 million).
Most previous bird flu epidemics petered out throughout the summer, but this year’s strain managed to hang around and began to reemerge this fall, killing more than 6 million birds in September.
Wild birds that travel across the nation are the main carriers of the virus. Wild birds can frequently carry the illness without displaying any signs of it.
The virus can contaminate dust and soil when it enters the environment through an infected bird’s droppings or nasal discharge.
Commercial farms have implemented several measures to stop the virus from spreading their flocks, such as forcing employees to change before entering barns and sterilizing trucks as they approach the property, but the illness can be challenging to manage.
Zoos have also taken security measures and restricted a few displays to save their bird populations.
Because human cases of the virus are exceedingly rare and diseased birds aren’t permitted to enter the country’s food supply, officials claim there is no risk to public health from the illness.
Additionally, properly cooking poultry to 165 degrees Fahrenheit can destroy any pathogens.
However, the avian flu outbreak has increased chicken and turkey costs and the skyrocketing price of feed and fuel.