Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad last week extended the state emergency disaster proclamation to July 1 to help agencies and poultry producers cope with the continuing outbreak of avian influenza. He originally issued the proclamation in early May. He says the disaster designation allows state agencies to coordinate their response to the outbreak of H5N2 virus that has killed over 28 million chickens and turkeys in Iowa since mid-April.
“By declaring a state of emergency we have a number of state agencies that can help,” says Branstad. “Homeland Security Emergency Management has taken the lead position but we also have the Iowa Department of Transportation, Department of Public Safety, Department of Public Health and others involved in managing this disease and assisting people and farms that are affected. We want to do everything we can.”
Number of birds killed or destroyed climbs to 28 million in Iowa
As of late May, the number of chickens and turkeys in Iowa that have died from bird flu or have been destroyed to help prevent the spread of the virus is over 28 million. The estimate can change daily as new cases and better information about the number of birds infected are reported to the Iowa Department of Agriculture. Nationally, an estimated 42 million birds have been infected in 15 states. Iowa and Minnesota have the largest losses.
The governor’s original disaster declaration was set to expire May 31, 2015. The proclamation can be read at governor.iowa.gov.
As of May 28 Iowa had 68 cases of the disease in the state. The disease is affecting birds in 18 counties. Counties affected at this time are: Buena Vista, Sac, Osceola, Sioux, O’Brien, Kossuth, Clay, Pocahontas, Cherokee, Madison, Wright, Palo Alto, Lyon, Plymouth, Calhoun, Adair, Webster and Hamilton.
The proclamation of disaster emergency does the following:
Activates the disaster response and recovery aspect of the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department’s (HSEMD) Iowa Emergency Response Plan.
Authorizes use and deployment of all available state resources, supplies, equipment, and materials as are deemed reasonably necessary by the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and the Iowa HSEMD in order to do the following:
•Track and monitor instances of confirmed highly pathogenic avian influenza throughout the state of Iowa and the country
•Establish importation restrictions and prohibitions in respect to animals suspected of suffering from this disease
•Rapidly detect any presumptive or confirmed cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza within Iowa’s borders
•Contain the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza within our state through depopulation, disinfections, and disposal of livestock carcasses
•Engage in detection activities, contact tracking, and other investigatory work to stop the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza within our state
•Eliminate the disease in those disaster counties where it has been found and lessen the risk of this disease spreading to our state as a whole.
3) Temporarily authorizes the Iowa HSEMD, the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT), the Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS), the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), other state agencies, and local law enforcement agencies and private contractors employed by the same to remove and/or dispose of live animals and animal carcasses on publicly or privately owned land when those live animals and/or carcasses threaten public health or safety.
4) Authorizes the Iowa HSEMD, the Iowa DOT, the Iowa DPS, the Iowa DNR, IDPH, other state agencies, and local law enforcement agencies to implement stop movement and stop loading restrictions and other control zone measures as are reasonably deemed necessary, including establishing buffer zones, checkpoints, and cleaning and disinfecting operations at checkpoints and borders surrounding any quarantine areas established by the IDALS or at any other location in the state of Iowa, in order to stop the spread of this contagious disease.
5) Authorizes state agencies to assist the IDALS in disinfection, depopulation and livestock carcass disposal efforts.
6) Temporarily waives restrictions to allow for the timely and efficient disposal of poultry carcasses.
7) Temporarily suspends the regulatory provisions pertaining to hours of service for commercial vehicle drivers hauling poultry carcasses infected with or exposed to highly pathogenic avian influenza or while hauling loads otherwise related to the response to this disaster during its duration, subject to certain conditions outlined in the disaster proclamation.
Update on activities of state government agencies in response to avian influenza
Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship (IDALS)
•Quarantining all infected sites
•Subject to facilities implementing nationally approved biosecurity measures, IDALS permits the movement of materials such as feed and other supplies on and off of infected sites
•Leading efforts to monitor poultry within a 10-kilometer circle of each infected site
•Coordinating state communication efforts on the disease
•Working with federal and state officials to ensure the humane depopulation and disposal of all birds from infected sites
•Encouraging residents in counties with affected sites that have poultry to contact DALS at [email protected] or 515-725-1122
Information on how avian flu situation is being handled
Gov. Branstad’s office last week provided the following background information on the avian flu situation.
The U.S. has the strongest avian influenza (AI) surveillance program in the world. As part of the existing USDA avian influenza response plans, federal and state partners as well as industry are responding quickly and decisively to these outbreaks by following five basic steps: 1) Quarantine – restricting movement of poultry and poultry-moving equipment into and out of the control area; 2) Eradicate – humanely euthanizing the affected flock(s); 3) Monitor region – testing wild and domestic birds in a broad area around the quarantine area; 4) Disinfect – kills the virus in the affected flock locations; and 5) Test – confirm that poultry farms in the area are free of the virus.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship in partnership with the Iowa Department of Public Health are working directly with poultry workers at the affected facility to ensure proper precautions are being taken.
All bird owners are urged to continue practicing good biosecurity
These virus strains can travel in wild birds without those birds appearing sick. People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.
All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard flock owners, should continue to practice good biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to state/federal officials, either through the state veterinarian at 515-281-5321 or through USDA’s toll-free number at 866-536-7593.