More than 4 million chickens to be culled at Iowa farm where bird flu was found 

National News

By Lorenz Duchamps 
Contributing Writer 

More than 4 million chickens will be slaughtered to prevent the spread of bird flu after the virus was detected at a commercial egg-laying facility in Iowa, the state announced on Tuesday. 

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship said in a statement that a coordinated effort with the U.S. Department of Agriculture led to the detection of a highly pathogenic avian influenza case of the H5N1 strain, also known as bird flu, at a large farm in Sioux County. 

It was the first avian influenza case detected in a large commercial flock of chickens in the Hawkeye State this year. 

Don McDowell, the agency’s communications director, wrote in an email that the affected flock contains about 4.2 million chickens. 

In a statement on Tuesday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that she signed a disaster proclamation for Sioux County, enabling state and federal agencies to assist with the tracking, monitoring, detection, containment, disposal and disinfection of the virus. 

“The recent HPAI detections in birds do not present an immediate public health concern, and it remains safe to eat poultry products,” the governor’s office said. “If producers suspect signs of HPAI in their flocks, they should contact their veterinarian immediately.” 

The proclamation will remain in place through June 27, her office said. 

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 92 million birds have been killed nationwide since the outbreak began in 2022. 

Last week, the virus was confirmed at an egg farm west of Minneapolis, Minnesota, leading to the slaughter of nearly 1.4 million chickens. 

Although HPAI — a viral disease affecting both wild and domestic bird populations — has become somewhat common among poultry, a growing number of cases in lactating dairy cattle and species that come into contact with them or drink their milk has added to worries about the disease. 

As of May 22, the virus has been confirmed on dairy cattle farms in Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, and Texas, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on May 24. 

Bird Flu Situation in Humans 

The second human case of bird flu this year, meanwhile, was recently diagnosed in a Michigan dairy worker. 

The farmworker, whose name, gender, age, and other personal details were not disclosed, tested positive on May 22 and experienced mild symptoms, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said. He has since recovered. 

Though two human cases of HPAI have been confirmed in Michigan and Texas this year, the CDC believes that the risk to the public remains low. 

“Persons who have job-related or recreational exposure to infected birds, poultry, dairy cattle, or other infected animals or contaminated materials, including raw cow’s milk, are at increased risk for infection; these persons should take appropriate precautions,” the CDC said. 

The agency said people who get close to infected cattle or other animals are advised to wear protective equipment, self-monitor for illness symptoms such as eye inflammation and fatigue, and seek prompt medical evaluation should they feel symptomatic. 

It also recommends people avoid eating raw or undercooked food from animals with suspected or confirmed cases of bird flu. 

The only three human cases of bird flu confirmed in the United States include two dairy workers in Michigan and Texas, as well as a man working to slaughter infected birds at a poultry farm in Montrose County, Colorado. All three people who have been infected have recovered. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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