Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey announced five new probably cases of the bird flu Thursday afternoon. There are three new cases in Buena Vista County including one facility with 5.5 million egg-laying hens, while the other two there are in turkey facilities. Northey says that pushes the number of facilities infected to 17, and includes around 15 million laying hens.
“That 15 million layers would be about one-fourth of Iowa’s layers. We’re are the biggest state by far, certainly that 15 million layers is gonna be bigger than many other states in the country in the number of layers impacted,” Northey says. The other two sites in Buena Vista County have turkeys and they are still determining the number of birds. There is one new probable each in laying operations in Clay and Sioux County.
The Sioux County site has 84,000 birds and the number at the Clay site is undetermined. Northey says the U.S..D.A. has been working to try and figure our how the disease is spread by checking farms in a circular area around the ones that have been infected. “While we see some neighboring farms that come up with the disease, we also see some other farms that don’t, so it’s not just reactoring in the contagion from farm-to-farm. And inn fact that’s why we set up our circles the way we do. Often we will look at a lot of farms in the circle that won’t come back positive for the disease,” Northey says.
It is believed the disease has been spread by migratory waterfowl. Northey says so far they haven’t found any evidence that the disease could be coming into farms from young birds that are brought in. “We have folks that’ll call us when maybe a farm’s average death loss has been 30 and it goes to 50,” Northey says. “They call and we’ll pull samples and some will turn out negative and some will turn out positive. I mean it’s in so few birds, but once it’s in a barn, it will go very quickly in a barn.”
Northey says that’s why they are advising facilities to continue ramping up their already heavy prevention measures. “So even though ever truck has been washed on an off that farm, every person maintained biosecurity, there could be something that flew over and left something on that farm that somebody walks through to take in a barn,” according to Northey.
Wright County voted Thursday to declare a state of emergency because of the bird flu, event though no cases have been reported there. Northey was asked about the move.
Northey says he is aware that it has happened, btu he hasn’t talked with county officials to see what that might bring to the county. “I know everybody is looking for ways to increase biosecurity and however that can be done, everybody’s considering it,” Northey says.
Northey says state continues working to handle the millions of birds that have to be destroyed after contracting the flu. He says concerned residents both within and outside the areas affected by avian influenza are encouraged to use the Iowa Concern Hotline at 1-800-447-1985 if they have questions. The Iowa Concern Hotline is available 24 hours a day. All calls are free and confidential, and the operators are willing to assist wherever possible.