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Bird flu confirmed in a northwest Iowa commercial turkey flock

Amy Mayer
Amy Mayer
IPR file
This is the second announcement this month of bird flu in Iowa. The first case was confirmed last week in a noncommercial flock of ducks and chickens in Pottawattamie County in western Iowa.

Bird flu has been confirmed in a commercial turkey flock in northwest Iowa, the second highly pathogenic case of the virus to be confirmed in Iowa.

Officials with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship said Monday they received confirmation late Sunday that the highly pathogenic avian flu had affected a Buena Vista County commercial flock of 50,000 turkeys.

State Veterinarian Jeff Kaisand said all turkeys were killed and are being disposed of on-site. Officials also established a 6-mile quarantine area called a “control zone” around the infected farm to prevent the disease from spreading. Kaisand said there are five other commercial farms and around 37 “backyard premises” in the area.

“We're actively testing for the disease in this area,” Kaisand said.

Kaisand said the three main options producers have to dispose of their birds are composting, shallow burial composting or deep burial.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday signed a disaster proclamation for Buena Vista County, which is effective through April 5. This allows the state to pool resources from the Iowa Department of Agriculture, Iowa Homeland Security and other agencies to help track, monitor, detect and contain the disease, as well as dispose of the birds and disinfect the premises.

“I think it's too soon to be concerned about food impact or pricing impact at this point, but you have to acknowledge that that can be an issue over time."
Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig

The latest case comes five days after the Iowa and U.S. agriculture departments announced a case of the highly pathogenic bird flu in a Pottawattamie County backyard flock of chickens and ducks. Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig said this is a “time of heightened alert.”

“It is critically important that livestock producers and their veterinarians closely monitor the health of their animals,” Naig said.

Because the flock infected is a commercial flock, Naig said there are potential trade and market implications. But it’s too soon to tell.

“I think it's too soon to be concerned about food impact or pricing impact at this point, but you have to acknowledge that that can be an issue over time,” he said.

Naig said poultry producers and backyard flock owners should “practice strict biosecurity.” That includes limiting visitors on their farm and limiting their flock’s exposure to wild birds. He stressed that these infections don’t present an immediate concern to human health and it’s safe to eat poultry products.

Good biosecurity also includes bird owners preventing contact between their birds and wild birds, Kaisand said. Wild birds can carry the virus. People should report sick birds and unexplained deaths to the Iowa Department of Agriculture, he said.

Katie Peikes was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio from 2018 to 2023. She joined IPR as its first-ever Western Iowa reporter, and then served as the agricultural reporter.