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Bird flu case found in southwest Iowa egg-laying flock

March 11, 2022 GMT

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — State and federal officials said Friday that Iowa’s third case of bird flu has been identified in a flock of about 919,000 egg-laying chickens in the southwestern part of the state.

The latest outbreak in Taylor County is the first case of avian influenza in Iowa this year in an egg-laying facility. The previous Iowa cases were a small outbreak among an outdoor flock of ducks and chickens in in western Iowa on March 1 and in a flock of 50,000 turkeys in northwest Iowa on March 6.

The presence of the virus is especially troubling for poultry producers in Iowa, the nation’s leading egg producer. In 2015, an outbreak led producers to kill 33 million hens in the state and 9 million birds in Minnesota, the nation’s leading turkey producer. Smaller outbreaks were reported in Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

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The first infection in the U.S. this year was identified in a commercial flock of turkeys in Indiana on Feb. 9. Since then, five additional flocks have been found with cases in Indiana. The virus has now infected backyard and commercial flocks in 12 states and it has been detected in migrating wild birds in about 20 states.

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig said the industry and state and federal agencies have prepared for additional infections. Typically infected flocks must be killed and disposed of within 24 hours if possible. A 10-kilometer quarantine radius is usually established around an infected farm.

Naig has said that if the virus spreads significantly into commercial egg, chicken or turkey populations, consumer prices and product availability could become an issue but it isn’t yet.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the recent bird flu detections do not present an immediate public health concern. No human cases of these avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States. While it can be transmitted to humans, it is unusual and typically due to close contact with infected birds.