The Iowa turkey and chicken facilities are still working on recovering from the bird flu outbreak, as state and federal officials look ahead to the possibility of another outbreak.
Veterinarian Jack Shere with the U.S.D.A.’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, says the summer heat should prevent another flare up right now.
“The chances of it recurring the flocks currently is pretty small. What works in our favor is the high temperature. What this virus likes is the cold, wet, rainy type weather — which we see in the fall and spring,” Shere says. Shere says they know another outbreak is possible when the wild birds start their fall migration. “We know that this virus still exists in the wild birds. We don’t know to what extent it is in the wild birds or whether they have had a chance to throw the virus off,” Shere says. “If we use the occurrences of what we’ve seen in Asia and in eastern Europe and part of western Europe the outbreaks that they have seen, we know that this can recur. So, we are preparing for that.”
Shere says they are also expecting the virus to spread after infecting the western, pacific and central fly zones of the birds.”We’re considering the fact that it’s probably going to be in the eastern flyways this fall. And so that is a consideration we are preparing for. All the major poultry states are beginning to plan on how they are going to deal with this. They are looking at their resources,” according to Shere. He says they have been talking with producers in all the states that have been hit by the avian flu to help prepare for the next round.
“We’ve talked about what are the best procedures to use…in the event of another outbreak,” Shere says. “What’s the fastest way to deal with this disease, what are the options we need to bring to bare? And what things do we need to be looking at for preparation should this occur again?” He says it’s hard to predict if there could be an outbreak the size of the one that hit this spring.
“Depending on how much virus there is there, what the load is and how fast they move south — we may see a large number of outbreaks — we may see a smattering. And then we have to worry about spring 2016. That’s the next time the virus will be moving north,” Shere says.
Iowa Agriculture Secretary, Bill Northey, says some Iowa facilities won’t be repopulated by the time the fall migration starts. He doesn’t know if others will wait to repopulate until the fall migration is over.
“I haven’t heard conversations within the industry where they have said ‘I am purposely waiting to restock’ because of concerns in the fall,” Northey says. Northey says Iowa facilities will do their best to prevent more outbreaks.
“Because we now know that this virus is deadly and it moves fairly easily between facilities, we have folks who are going to be very aggressive in trying to prevent the virus from coming onto their farm,” Northey says. The poultry industry will hold a conference on avian influenza next week in Des Moines.