Nearly 1 million egg-laying hens will be destroyed in Iowa's third outbreak of bird flu
Iowa agriculture officials said Friday bird flu was detected in a commercial flock of laying hens in Iowa, the third outbreak the state has experienced in less than a month.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture said Friday it has confirmed an outbreak of avian influenza in a commercial egg-laying operation in Taylor County, a southwestern county located on the Missouri border.
The state said nearly 920,000 laying hens would be destroyed to prevent the spread of the disease that's highly contagious to other birds. Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a disaster declaration for Taylor County, allowing the state ag department and other agencies to help track, monitor and contain the disease, as well as dispose of birds and disinfect facilities.
State officials have quarantined a six-mile circle around the site, to restrict movement in and out of, as well as around the facility, said Chloe Carson, spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Agriculture.
They are testing a commercial facility of hens that are less than a year old, known as pullets, that's within the quarantine area.
Iowa has experienced two other outbreaks of the virus as it also spreads in other states across the U.S. Officials confirmed the first outbreak March 1, when a backyard flock of 42 chickens and ducks tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza; and on Sunday, when 50,000 turkeys in a commercial facility in Buena Vista County tested positive for the virus.
All the birds have been killed to contain the disease.
State and federal agencies said none of the birds nor any poultry products from flocks where avian influenza is detected will reach U.S. food supplies. No human cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza have been detected in the United States.
Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig said in a statement Friday that the state is working closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and livestock producers "to control and eradicate this disease from our state.”
Iowa leads the nation in egg production, with 55 million laying hens producing 16 billion eggs annually, and it ranks seventh nationally for turkey production, raising 12 million birds a year.
Carson said the state sees no links between the three cases.
Iowa State Veterinarian Jeff Kaisand has said he believed the facilities in Pottawattamie and Buena Vista counties were infected by wild birds, in which the disease is highly prevalent. Iowa is part of the Mississippi flyway, a migration route for millions of birds each year.
Iowa ag officials have urged flock owners to prevent contact between their birds and wild birds and to report sick birds or unusual deaths to state or federal officials.
Donnelle Eller covers agriculture, the environment and energy for the Register. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-284-8457.