Officials said they identified bird flu in a commercial flock of 50,000 turkeys in northwest Iowa, the state’s second case of the virus that has been identified in multiple states.
DES MOINES, Iowa — Officials announced Monday that they have identified bird flu in a commercial flock of 50,000 turkeys in northwest Iowa, the second case of the virus identified in multiple U.S. states.
Iowa agriculture officials and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have confirmed the case in Buena Vista County, about 160 miles north of the case identified March 1 in a backyard herd of 42 ducks and chickens in Pottawattamie County.
Governor Kim Reynolds signed a disaster proclamation for Buena Vista County to allow state resources to assist in the disposal of the affected herd and sanitation of the farm. Authorities did not immediately reveal the number of birds involved. The emergency declaration also provides resources for tracking, surveillance and rapid detection of avian influenza.
The turkeys were killed and disposed of on the farm. A 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) control zone has been established to limit traffic in and out of the area while extensive testing is carried out to ensure there is no no other cases, said state veterinarian Dr. Jeff Kaisand. He said five other commercial farms are in the area and 37 backyard herds.
The discovery of bird flu is particularly troubling in Iowa, the nation’s top egg producer. In 2015, an outbreak led producers to kill 33 million hens in the state and 9 million birds in Minnesota, the nation’s top turkey producer. Smaller outbreaks have been reported in Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig said in a statement that state and federal agriculture officials are working with growers “to track, control and eradicate this disease from our state.”
Naig told reporters that if the virus spreads significantly in commercial egg, chicken or turkey populations, consumer prices and product availability could become an issue. Cases have been reported in at least 12 states in backyard flocks and commercial production homes.
“We’re not seeing a massive large-scale outbreak so I think it’s too early to worry about the food impact or the price impact at this point, but you have to recognize that can be a problem over time,” he said.
Avian influenza is an airborne respiratory virus that spreads easily among chickens through nasal and eye secretions, as well as manure. The virus can spread from flock to flock through wild birds, through contact with infected poultry, through equipment and on the clothes and shoes of keepers.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said recent bird flu detections do not present an immediate public health concern. No human cases of these avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States. Although it can be transmitted to humans, it is unusual and usually due to close contact with infected birds.
The first infection this year was identified in a commercial flock of turkeys in Indiana on February 9. Since then, five additional flocks have been found with cases in Indiana, where more than 171,000 birds have been killed and removed. The virus was also detected in a flock of turkeys and broiler chickens in Kentucky last month, resulting in the destruction and disposal of more than 284,000 birds. A commercial chicken flock in Delaware was also infected, killing 1.2 million birds, the USDA said.
In the past few days, officials have identified the virus on a southeast Missouri farm with 240,000 broiler chickens, a commercial mixed-species flock in southeast South Dakota and a laying hen operation. in northeastern Maryland.
On Monday, Nebraska officials confirmed the state’s first known discovery of the virus this year, in a wild goose near Holmes Lake in Lincoln.