Turkey (file photo)

Turkey (file photo)

Iowa Agriculture Secretary, Bill Northey, says the U.S.D.A. has confirmed the H5N2 bird flu in a flock of turkeys in northwest Iowa’s Buena Vista County.

“It is the first case of having the highly pathogenic avian influenza in a bird flock in Iowa. We’ve certainly seen it in many of our surrounding states,” Northey says. The 27,000 turkeys at the farm will be destroyed along with other measures to try and prevent the spread of the disease.

“We’ll actually have a quarantine on that facility and the facilities nearby that, whether they are backdoor flocks or whether they are commercial flocks in that area — all avian flocks — so, chickens or turkeys or other birds that are in that area,” Northey says. “We’ll do testing to ensure that it hasn’t spread to any other birds in that area.”

He says the restrictions will be in place while they make sure this is an isolated case. “We’ll have to have a couple of tests to be able to make sure that there is nothing else in that area, and then a period of time, about three weeks to make sure nothing else is impacted. And after that time we’ll be able to allow movement again of birds,” according to Northey. The H5N2 has been showing up in states around Iowa, mostly those in the Mississippi flyway, and Northey says it’s believed migratory birds carried it here too. “That’s been the presumption in other places. We don’t have anything to suggest that it moved in any other way, so we believe it is likely migratory birds as we have seen it in other parts of the midwest,” Northey says.

Iowa is the top egg-producer state in the country and one of the top turkey producers, so the Ag Secretary says it’s important to move quickly to handle the outbreak. “Generally it’s very contagious to birds — especially turkeys — it’ll usually cause death loss within those turkeys very quickly and it’s certainly contagious within the flock. So, it’s important to limit the opportunity for this to spread to other birds,” Northey says.

He says there’s no concern about humans catching the avian flu. “We know of no cases that this type of flu has ever impacted humans, so this is mostly about making sure that those birds in this area are not allowed to spread that to other birds,” Northey says. Northey says the commercial operations in the state have good bioseurity measures in place to help prevent the spread of the avian flu.

The state of Wisconsin just confirmed its first case of the bird flu Monday and it has been confirmed in Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.