Bird flu strikes third Buena Vista County facility

By: - March 24, 2022 6:35 pm

(Photo by Stephen Ausmus/Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture)

A commercial flock of about 54,000 turkeys in Buena Vista County is the sixth location in Iowa to be stricken by a deadly and highly contagious avian influenza since the beginning of this month, according to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

Buena Vista now accounts for half of the virus detections and the vast majority of affected birds in the state, which total more than 6.3 million.

“Buena Vista County does have a large number of poultry facilities, however we cannot speculate on why they are seeing an increased number of detections at this time,” said Chloe Carson, an IDALS spokesperson.

She said there is no evidence that the virus has been transmitted from one infected flock to another, which was a problem during Iowa’s last highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak in 2015. Flocks are culled as quickly as possible to contain the virus.

Humans are unlikely to be infected, and meat and eggs from infected flocks are discarded.

The virus is being discovered almost daily in Midwestern states and elsewhere, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It is being transported by migrating, wild birds. The virus has been confirmed in seven wild geese and one wild duck in Iowa, the department reported.

The latest domestic flock detection in Buena Vista County was confirmed Wednesday, according to IDALS, the same day the department barred events at which live birds are gathered together from different locations. The prohibition, which remains in force until 30 days have passed without a new confirmed flock infection, has the potential to nix bird exhibitions at county fairs, which are most often held in July, and at the Iowa State Fair, which begins Aug. 11.

Those exhibitions were also canceled in 2015, when avian flu detections led to the culling of more than 32 million birds in the state.

“This is a difficult time for poultry producers,” said Mike Naig, the state’s secretary of agriculture said Thursday.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza detections in Iowa include:

March 1: A backyard flock of 42 chickens and ducks in Pottawattamie County.
March 6: A commercial flock of 50,000 turkeys in Buena Vista County.
March 10: A commercial flock of 919,000 egg-laying chickens in Taylor County.
March 17: A commercial flock of 5.3 million egg-laying chickens in Buena Vista County.
March 20: A backyard flock of fewer than 50 chickens and ducks in Warren County.
March 23: A commercial flock of 54,000 turkeys in Buena Vista County.

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Jared Strong
Jared Strong

Senior reporter Jared Strong has written about Iowans and the important issues that affect them for more than 15 years, previously for the Carroll Times Herald and the Des Moines Register.