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Bird flu confirmed in Buena Vista County commercial turkey flock; the third case in the county

Amy Mayer
IPR file
This is the third confirmed outbreak of avian flu in Buena Vista County.

Agriculture officials have confirmed deadly bird flu in a third commercial flock in northwest Iowa’s Buena Vista County, but say there aren’t any known links between the cases.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship said Thursday that it and the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed highly pathogenic avian flu in a commercial turkey flock in Buena Vista County. Chloe Carson, a spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Agriculture, said in an email to IPR that there are just under 54,000 turkeys in the flock.

Iowa has seen six confirmations of bird flu since March 1 in commercial and backyard flocks. Half of the detections are in Buena Vista County. The other cases in the county were confirmed in a flock of 5.3 million commercial layer chickens on March 17 and a commercial flock of just under 50,000 turkeys on March 6.

“At this time, there are no known connections between the three confirmed cases in Buena Vista County,” Carson wrote in an email to IPR.

In a statement, Iowa Turkey Federation executive director Gretta Irwin praised the state and federal agriculture departments for their “swift action” on the issue.

“Whenever farmers have sick animals, it is stressful,” Irwin said. “We are thankful that IDALS, and USDA have a well thought out plan of action and experienced animal health individuals to help in this time of need.”

The Iowa Turkey Federation says turkey farmers are keeping a watchful eye on the health of their flocks. They’ve also increased their biosecurity protocols – the things they do on their farms to keep diseases and germs out.

During a March 7 news conference after bird flu was detected in the first commercial turkey flock in Buena Vista County, State Veterinarian Jeff Kaisand said the goal is to cull a flock within 24 hours of a confirmed case of bird flu to prevent the disease from spreading.

The state also works with the USDA to establish a 6 mile control zone around the site where they restrict the movement of poultry in and out of the area. They also actively test for the disease and alert other flock owners within the 6 mile radius of the case.

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.