ChickenThe Iowa Department of Agriculture says it is investigating four probable new cases of the avian flu in commercial poultry farms in Osceola, O’Brien and Sioux Counties in Northwest Iowa. These four new cases involve more than 2 million birds and would join three confirmed cases of the disease in Iowa.

State officials plan to talk more about the issue later today in a conference call with reporters. The information released thus far says there is a chicken farm with an estimated 250-thousand birds that might be infected in Osceola County. There are two egg laying facilities in O’Brien County, one with 240,000 thousand birds, and the other with 98,000 birds. The largest operation is a commercial laying operation in Sioux County with 1.7 million birds.

Initial tests at each of the facilities has shown positive results for the H5N2 virus. State officials have quarantined the premises and if the initial test are confirmed, all birds on the property will be euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease.

The first confirmed case found in the state involved a turkey farm in Buena Vista County where 37,000 birds were destroyed after the disease was confirmed. And egg-laying operation in Osceola County was the second case and it was forced to euthanize 3.8 million hens. The third confirmed case involved a flock of 34,000 turkeys in Sac County.