Bird flu outbreak grows; worst case yet reported in Iowa

White chickenIowa, the top U.S. egg-producing state, is not only the latest to announce the finding of a strain of bird flu in an egg-laying facility within the state, but also has been deemed the worst case seen thus far in the national outbreak now covering 12 states and dating back to the beginning of the year.

Bird flu, also called avian influenza or AI, is a viral disease that infects birds. Officials believe wild birds are spreading the virus, but they do not know for certain how it is entering barns.

The infected Iowa birds were being raised in a facility that houses 3.8 million hens, according to a recent article, which sells eggs to food manufacturers, government agencies and retailers. The flock has been quarantined, and birds on the property will be culled to prevent the spread of the disease as the virus can kill nearly an entire infected flock within 48 hours.

A loss of 3.8 million birds represents more than 6% of the egg-laying hens in Iowa and more than 1% of the U.S. flock, meaning “there definitely will be some customers that will be impacted by this,” Bill Northey, Iowa’s secretary of agriculture, said in the article.

Other states that have detected bird flu include Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin — where the state’s governor, Scott Walker, recently declared a state of emergency after three poultry flocks in the state became infected in the past week. The infected birds, more than 326,000 in all, were chickens at an egg-laying facility, turkeys and a backyard flock of mixed-breed birds, according to a report from his office.

As stated in the article, the Department of Agriculture has spent at least $45 million responding to the U.S. outbreak, including costs for testing, quarantines around infected facilities, and compensation for producers whose birds have been killed by the virus or culled. The figure does not include the cost to producers from the months of downtime in barns after infections have been detected. The infections also have hurt the $5.7 billion U.S. export market for poultry and eggs.

A spokesperson for the Iowa company where the contaminated birds were located said in the article that they went to great lengths to prevent their bird from contracting AI and that it occurred despite their best efforts.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the risk for human infections to be low, and no human cases have been reported. For producers however, it’s very different.

“In the back of [producers’] heads is how greatly they could be impacted by this disease,” Northey added.

For more information, click here.

Neogen’s comprehensive line of agricultural biosecurity products includes multiple disinfectants that have been proven to be effective against avian influenza. For more information, click here.

Comments are closed.