DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Officials announced Monday they have identified bird flu in a commercial flock of 50,000 turkeys in northwestern Iowa, the state’s second case of a virus identified in multiple U.S. states.
Iowa agriculture officials and the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the case in Buena Vista County, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of the case identified March 1 in a backyard flock of 42 ducks and chickens in Pottawattamie County.
Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a disaster declaration for Buena Vista County to allow state resources to help dispose of affected herds and disinfect the farm. Officials did not immediately disclose the number of birds involved. The Emergency Statement also provides resources for tracking, monitoring and rapid detection of avian influenza.
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The turkeys were killed and disposed of on the farm. A 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) control area has been set up to limit traffic in and out of the area while extensive testing is carried out to ensure no other cases arise, state veterinarian Dr. Jeff Kaisand. He said five other commercial farms are in the zone and 37 backyard herds.
The discovery of bird flu is of particular concern in Iowa, the nation’s top egg producer. In 2015, an outbreak resulted in producers killing 33 million chickens 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 Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig said in a statement that state and federal agriculture officials are working with producers “to track, control and eradicate this disease in our state.”
Naig told reporters that consumer pricing and product availability could become an issue if the virus spreads significantly in commercial egg, chicken or turkey populations. Cases have been reported in backyard herds and commercial production homes in at least 12 states.
“We’re not seeing a massive, large-scale outbreak and so I think it’s too early to worry about the impact on food or pricing at this point, but you have to acknowledge that over time this is an issue can be,” he said.
Avian influenza is an airborne respiratory virus that spreads easily among chickens through nasal and eye secretions and manure. The virus can spread from flock to flock through wild birds, through contact with infected poultry, through equipment and on the clothing and shoes of keepers.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said recent bird flu detections were not an immediate public health concern. No human cases of these avian influenza viruses have been reported in the United States. Although it can be transmitted to humans, it is uncommon and typically results from close contact with infected birds.
The first infection this year was detected in a commercial turkey flock in Indiana on February 9. Since then, five more 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 broilers 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, resulting in the disposal of 1.2 million birds, the USDA said.
In recent days, officials have identified the virus at a southeast Missouri farm with 240,000 broilers, a commercial mixed-breed flock in southeast South Dakota and a laying hen operation in northeast Maryland.
On Monday, Nebraska officials confirmed the first known detection of the virus this year in a wild goose near Holmes Lake in Lincoln.
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