Iowa poultry producers are on-guard as more than 73,000 chickens were destroyed since the weekend outbreak of highly-pathogenic avian influenza at a Tennessee farm.

Thirty other farms nearby are quarantined. Kevin Stiles, executive director of the Iowa Poultry and Egg Association, says the Tennessee outbreak is a worry here, as Iowa dealt with a major outbreak in 2015.

“We’re always concerned anytime we hear the words ‘high-path avian influenza’ mentioned,” Stiles says. “We do feel and hope our producers have taken the necessary safeguards to do as good a job as we can from a biosecurity standpoint, but none the less, certainly they would have concern.” Another bird flu outbreak is reported in a Wisconsin turkey farm but it is not the highly-pathogenic variety. Stiles says Iowa’s producers tightened biosecurity following the epidemic here two years ago and are just now recovering lost ground.

“We still are working hard to recapture some of those export markets that were lost during 2015,” Stiles says. “We’re starting to see some of those come back and, of course, we’ve most recently seen some export gain from the fact South Korea is experiencing an avian influenza outbreak.” Stiles says the U.S.D.A. and Tennessee agriculture department officials have responded well to the outbreak.

“They have quickly gotten their arms around the initial site and are testing a number of birds in flocks around,” Stiles says. “At least until now, those subsequent tests have all come up negative, so that makes me feel good that U.S.D.A. and the folks in Tennessee are doing a great job in getting on this as soon as possible.” Tennessee officials have declined to name the breeder and would only say the farm is in the state’s Lincoln County, west of Chattanooga.

During the 2015 bird flu outbreak, cases were confirmed at 77 Iowa poultry operations in 18 counties. It resulted in the destruction of more than 31-million birds and an economic loss to the state of $1.2 billion dollars.

(Reporting by Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)