All the talk about preparing for an avian flu outbreak apparently has Iowans asking questions. Officials with the state Emergency Management Division, Ag and Health Departments briefed Iowa Senator Tom Harkin Friday about state preparedness plans for a potential avian flu outbreak.

Talking to the media after the briefing, Ag Secretary Patty Judge — who is suffering a cold — joked that she did not have the bird flu. Judge later became more serious and said the bird flu is not something to worry about right now. She says, “As we approach the holidays, we want to make certain that consumers of poultry and eggs in this state understand that it is a safe, nutritious and delicious opportunity. So let’s all have turkey for Thanksgiving.”

Judge says she felt the need to make a public statement about avian flu because of public concern. She says they’ve are had a number of inquiries to her office and the Department of Public Health about the bird flu. She says people are reading about the disease and want to know how it works and if it is here. Judge says they can’t rule out a future outbreak of the flu — but she says it’s not an immediate worry. Judge and other state officials say they have a plan in place that will hopefully allow them to deal with any outbreak and lessen its impact.