Avian influenza is primarily a disease of poultry, waterfowl and migratory birds caused by Type A influenza viruses. This virus can infect several species of wild birds and domestic poultry, including chickens, turkeys, quail, guinea fowl and ducks, as well as free-ranging and captive wild birds. Less frequently, avian influenza viruses are in rats, mice, weasels, ferrets, pigs, cats, tigers, dogs and horses, as well as humans.
There are many avian influenza virus strains, which are usually classified into two categories according to the severity. Low pathogenic strains typically cause few or no symptoms in poultry. Highly pathogenic strains can cause severe symptoms and potentially high mortality rates in poultry.
In January 2022, highly pathogenic avian influenza H5 was confirmed in wild, captive, commercial and backyard birds in many states. It was first identified in Nebraska in a wild goose in early March. Multiple wild bird species have contracted the disease since then.
The Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza has been confirmed in both domestic bird flocks and wild bird species across the state in 2022. View the map below for more information.
Make a report
Report sightings of dead wild birds near where HPAI has been confirmed to your nearest Game and Parks office. This includes mortalities of wild waterfowl, raptors (hawks, owls, eagles, or vultures), scavengers (ravens, crows, or gulls), turkeys, quail, and grouse, among other wild bird species.
Report sickness or deaths in domestic flocks to state and federal officials by calling the Nebraska Department of Agriculture at 877-800-4080 or the U.S. Department of Agriculture at 866-536-7593.
- 15 poultry facilities in Nebraska have been confirmed to have HPAI. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture continues to work with each facility to quarantine, test, and eventually repopulate the facilities.
- One human infection has been recognized in association with this outbreak, which has affected birds in 46 states. The Centers for Disease Control considers the risk to people to be low. Learn more on the CDC site.
- Avian influenza is primarily spread by direct contact between healthy birds and infected birds and through indirect contact with contaminated equipment and materials.
- There is no evidence thus far that dogs used for game bird hunting are considered at risk. There have been no cases of the HPAI virus infecting dogs of any kind in North America.
- There are currently no bans restricting movement of legally possessed captive game birds into Nebraska.
- Those seeking to import pen-raised pheasants, quail or other game birds into the state should contact the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
- If you have questions about your Controlled Shooting Area or Captive Wildlife Permit, contact the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
- All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, should prevent contact between their birds and wild birds.
- There is currently very low risk of an outbreak among wild songbirds. At this time, no official national recommendation to take down feeders has been issued unless you also keep domestic poultry, according to the National Wildlife Disease Program. People are encouraged to clean their bird feeders and birdbaths regularly. Learn more on the All About Birds site.
Upland game bird and waterfowl hunters who own poultry or other captive birds should take the below precautions when handling wild birds or cleaning game. These are also good rules of thumb for all hunters cleaning any type of game:
- Avoid handling wild birds that are obviously sick or found dead.
- Dress your game birds in the field whenever possible.
- If dressing birds at home, double bag the remains and place in a trash can that is secure against access by pets or other animals.
- Do not eat, drink or smoke while cleaning game.
- Wear rubber gloves and mask while cleaning game.
- Wash hands, all tools and work surfaces with soap and water, or alcohol wipes if unavailable, after cleaning game.
- Avoid cross-contamination. Keep uncooked game in a separate container away from cooked or ready-to-eat foods.
- Cook game bird meat, as with all poultry and eggs, thoroughly – to an internal temperature of 165 F.
- Anyone recently handling game birds should not visit any backyard poultry or commercial poultry site.
Learn more about avian influenza in wild birds on the USDA’s avian influenza and wild birds page. Additional information also can be found on the USGS National Wildlife Health Center website and the Wildlife Health Information Sharing Partnership.
For upland game bird production, read the Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s Nebraska Poultry Biosecurity Guidebook Upland Gamebird.
For more information about biosecurity for backyard flocks, visit the USDA avian influenza webpage.