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4.2 Million Chickens to Be Culled in Iowa Due to Bird Flu

by Richard A Reagan

Following the detection of the highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu at a major egg farm in Sioux County, Iowa, officials have announced the culling of over 4 million chickens. 

This outbreak, the first reported in the state this year, has prompted Governor Kim Reynolds to issue a disaster proclamation.

The affected flock, which contains approximately 4.2 million chickens, was confirmed to have the virus by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

This outbreak is part of a broader crisis that began in 2022 and has since led to the culling of over 92 million birds nationwide, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The presence of the H5N1 virus has not only devastated the poultry industry but also begun to affect the dairy sector. Earlier this year, the virus was detected in dairy cattle, leading to reduced milk production and spreading concern about the wider implications of the outbreak. 

The CDC has recorded bird flu in more than 9,300 wild birds across all 50 states and confirmed cases in 67 herds in nine states. The human impact has been limited, with three cases reported following exposure to infected birds and dairy animals. These cases were mild and all individuals have since recovered.

Iowa, the leading egg producer in the United States, has felt the economic repercussions intensely. The last significant outbreak in the state prior to this occurred in November, when a commercial egg-laying operation in Sioux County faced a similar crisis

The current outbreak has set a grim record for the year, affecting the largest number of chickens in a single flock nationally.

The response to the outbreak has been swift, with ongoing efforts to cull the infected flock. The process involves isolating and disposing of the birds to prevent further spread of the virus, a necessary but harsh step to control the disease. 

Governor Reynolds has authorized the use of state resources to assist with tracking, detection, containment, disposal, and disinfection efforts in the affected areas, under a disaster proclamation that remains in effect until June 27.

This outbreak is a stark reminder of the persistent threats facing the agricultural sector and the ongoing challenges in managing animal disease outbreaks that can have widespread economic and health implications.

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