First Iowa farm restocks turkeys after bird flu outbreak

First Iowa farm restocks turkeys after bird flu outbreak

Officials will hold a press conference at farm near Manson on Aug. 10 for an update on situation in Iowa.

A northwest Iowa farmer whose turkey operation was struck by avian influenza earlier this year is restocking his birds. The Iowa Department of Agriculture made the announcement August 4. This is the first Iowa farm allowed to be restocked by state and federal officials after the deadly poultry disease hit Iowa hard this spring and wiped out millions of chickens and turkeys.

Related: Avian flu timeline: A recap of HPAI headlines

RESTOCKING UNDERWAY: The Iowa Department of Agriculture announced this week a turkey farm near Manson in northwest Iowa that was infected with avian influenza and had to depopulate has started restocking its flock. It is the first farm allowed to be restocked.

The farm is located near Manson, and is owned by Brad Moline and family. The Iowa Department of Ag says the farm completed the cleaning and disinfection process and the farm has passed environmental tests. State officials say four other facilities in Iowa also can now bring birds back into their barns.

Restocking is an important milestone in recovering from the disease that resulted in the loss of 34 million turkeys, chickens and backyard poultry in Iowa and nearly 50 million birds nationally. State officials say Moline has now finished cleaning and disinfecting his turkey operation which was hit by bird flu in May. Testing has shown no remaining virus.

Many control zones being lifted surrounding infected premises
State officials also say they are lifting quarantines on the area around 69 of 77 poultry operations that had been infected with bird flu in Iowa. The control zones prevented the movement of birds, feed and other related materials within 10 kilometers (about six miles) of an infected facility without the state's approval.

Depopulation and disposal has been completed at all 77 sites, and 16 sites have completed cleaning and disinfecting their operations. Moline's farm in Calhoun County was hit by the disease on May 19. The farm lost 14,400 turkeys, according to the state report. Moline began restocking on July 31. The farm has six barns that can hold 43,200 brooder poults and finisher turkeys. State and federal farm and emergency management officials plan to hold their press conference Aug. 10 at Moline's farm.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, Dr. Jack Shere from USDA APHIS, Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Mark Schouten, farm owner Brad Moline and leaders of the Iowa Turkey Federation will participate in the press conference.

Iowa ag officials explain the process of lifting control zones
All premises that had poultry that were located within a 10 kilometer control zone surrounding an infected site were quarantined and all movement of poultry and poultry products, feed, fuel, etc. in and out of those quarantined non-infected premises had to be permitted by the Iowa Department of Agriculture. In addition, all premises containing poultry infected with the virus were quarantined. 

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State and federal officials emphasize that their August 4 announcement allowing the lifting of most of the control zones in the state does not affect the status of any premise that had a confirmed case of avian influenza; it only impacts those sites that were not infected but were within the 10 kilometer control zone.

To be eligible for the control zone to be lifted 60 days must have elapsed since the poultry located on the infected premises that caused the control zone to be established were depopulated or 21 days must have elapsed since cleaning and disinfection were completed on the infected premise.

There have been 18 counties with at least one control zone and now there will only be control zones remaining on six farms in three counties. These farms are located in Adair, Sioux and Wright counties.

Officials issue Iowa avian influenza situation update
The Iowa Department of Agriculture released the following report August 4. It says the Iowa HPAI Incident Command Post is operating under a Unified Command involving the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services.

Since April 13, 2015, there have been 77 total premises and 34 million birds affected with H5N2 HPAI in Iowa. There are 35 commercial turkey flocks, 22 commercial egg production flocks, 13 pullet flocks, one breeding flock for a mail order hatchery, and six backyard flocks. Depopulation and disposal has been completed at all 77 premises. Sixteen sites have completed the cleaning and disinfection process. Four sites are now eligible for repopulation.

USDA has a number of staff and contract workers in Iowa
USDA APHIS currently has 54 staff members in Iowa assisting in the response.  In addition, more than 1,900 federal contract personnel are in Iowa.

More than 300 state employees have also participated in the disaster response at some point. The Iowa Department of Agriculture, Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Department of Public Health (working with local public health officials), Iowa Department of Human Services, Iowa Department of Transportation, and Iowa National Guard have all supported the response effort to this disease. Local and county government employees and officials have also provided support and assisted in the response.

Updated information about the number of cases, when they are confirmed and other relevant information will be posted to the Iowa Department of Agriculture website iowaagriculture.gov/avianinfluenza.asp.

The federal Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Iowa Department of Public Health considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections in wild birds, backyard flocks and commercial poultry, to be low.  No human infections with the virus have ever been detected and there is no food safety risk for consumers.

TAGS: USDA
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