DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Avian flu has infected two more Iowa farms and forced the killing of 5.3 million chickens and 88,000 turkeys, officials said Friday.
The new cases mean farmers across the country have had to kill about 22 million birds, mostly egg-laying chickens, but also 1.8 million broilers, 1.9 million pullets and other commercial chickens, and 1.9 million turkeys. Iowa is responsible for many of these cases, with about 13 million chickens and 305,000 turkeys killed since the outbreaks began a month ago.
Iowa is the nation’s top egg producer and had 46 million chickens on farms as of February, according to US Department of Agriculture data. Iowa raises about 11.7 million turkeys annually.
The most recent cases involved an egg farm in Osceola County and a turkey farm in Cherokee County, both in northwestern Iowa. Earlier this week, state officials also confirmed the virus at a 35,500-bird turkey farm in Buena Vista County.
Because the virus is so contagious and deadly to commercial poultry, entire flocks are destroyed and composted on farms when infected.
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USDA data shows 23 states have confirmed cases in commercial or backyard herds.
The spread of the disease is largely attributed to the droppings or nasal discharge of infected wild birds such as ducks and geese, which can contaminate dust and soil. Infected wild birds have been found in at least 26 states, and the virus has been circulating in migratory waterfowl in Europe and Asia for almost a year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the cases in birds posed no immediate public health problem. No human cases of the avian influenza virus have been identified in the United States. It remains safe to eat poultry products. Cooking poultry and eggs at an internal temperature of 165˚F kills bacteria and viruses.
This story has been updated to correct the total number of birds killed in the US to 22 million, including all species, and to correct the number of birds killed in Iowa to 13 million instead of 18 million.
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