POTTAWATAMIE COUNTY, Iowa (KMTV) — On Wednesday, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship announced the confirmation of one case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), more commonly known as bird flu, at a Pottawattamie County residence.
The singular case was found in a backyard poultry flock, a non-commercial environment. Therefore, it is safe to continue to consume poultry products as long as they are cooked properly to kill bacteria. In a press release, the Iowa Dept. of Agriculture stressed that there is "no immediate public health concern" and there are no cases of humans who have contracted the virus in the US.
"We recognize the threat HPAI and other foreign animal diseases pose to Iowa agriculture,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig in the press release. “We have been working with USDA, livestock producers and other stakeholders to develop, test and strengthen our foreign animal disease preparedness and response plans since the 2015 HPAI outbreak. While a case like this is not unexpected, we are working with USDA and other partners to implement our plans and protect the health of poultry flocks in Iowa.”
The 2015 outbreak was considered one of the most serious animal health disease incidents to ever occur in the US, affecting 50.4 million birds and 211 flocks along with backyard flocks in a seven-month period from Dec. 2014 to June 2015. Losses of an estimated $1 billion were suffered, and the USDA created a response plan called The Red Book, which provides a detailed strategy to manage avian influenza outbreaks. Iowa was one of the hardest-hit states with tens of millions of commercial turkeys and chickens infected.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship worked with the USDA and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to confirm the case of HPAI, a virus that is often fatal to domestic bird populations such as chicken and turkeys.
Anyone who owns domestic bird flocks should contact their veterinarian if they observe or suspect signs of HPAI in their birds, including but not limited to sudden bird deaths, degraded egg quality and production, difficulty breathing or runny nose and swelling or discoloration in key features. Veterinarians are legally required to report clinical signs of avian influenza to the Iowa State Veterinarian because it qualifies as a reportable animal disease.
HPAI is spread through bird "droppings or nasal discharge of an infected bird, which can contaminate dust and soil," and the Dept. of Agriculture and Stewardship recommends that flock owners should practice good biosecurityand prevent contact between domestic and wild birds, especially as wild birds may not show signs of the virus and the low pathogenic avian influenza can develop into the high pathogenic form.