Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Encourages Vigilance Against Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza
With Minnesota and South Dakota confirming cases, fall migration underway, and the virus continuing to circulate in the wild bird population, Iowa poultry producers and those with backyard birds should take proactive steps to defend their flocks.
DES MOINES, Iowa (October 11, 2023) – The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is strongly encouraging poultry producers and those with backyard birds to be especially vigilant about the signs and symptoms of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) and to practice the highest levels of biosecurity around their birds.
Recent cases of HPAI were confirmed in South Dakota and Minnesota this month and the destructive virus continues to actively circulate within the wild bird population. With fall migration underway, Iowa’s poultry producers and those with backyard flocks should remain on high alert.
“Unfortunately, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza continues to be an active threat to our state’s turkey producers, egg layers, and backyard flocks. We encourage everyone to remain vigilant, review their biosecurity plans and ensure they are fully implemented,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “Prevention of disease is always our goal, but should we face new cases, our team at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, working jointly with USDA and industry partners, is ready to swiftly respond.”
Commercial and backyard flock owners should prevent contact between their birds and wild birds. Sick birds or unusual deaths among birds should be immediately reported to state or federal officials. Biosecurity resources and best practices are available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship website. If producers suspect signs of HPAI in their flocks, they should contact their veterinarian immediately. Possible cases must also be reported to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship at (515) 281-5305.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recent HPAI detections in birds do not present a public health concern. It remains safe to eat poultry products. As a reminder, consumers should always utilize the proper handling and cooking of eggs and poultry products, including cooking to an internal temperature of 165˚F.
HPAI is a highly contagious viral disease affecting bird populations. HPAI can travel in wild birds without those birds appearing sick, but is often fatal to domestic bird populations, including chickens and turkeys. The virus can spread through the droppings or the nasal discharge of an infected bird, both of which can contaminate dust and soil.
Signs of HPAI may include:
• Sudden increase in bird deaths without any clinical signs
• Lethargy and/or lack of energy and appetite
• Decrease in egg production
• Soft, thin-shelled and/or misshapen eggs
• Swelling of the head, eyelids, comb, wattles, and hocks
• Purple/blue discoloration of the wattles, comb, and legs
• Difficulty breathing
• Coughing, sneezing, and/or nasal discharge (runny nose)
• Stumbling and/or falling down
Iowa’s last reported case of HPAI was reported in a backyard flock in Chickasaw County on March 14, 2023. Since the first case was reported in Iowa on March 1, 2022, Iowa has had a total of 32 cases affecting over 15.92 million birds. Nationwide, since the start of the outbreak, there have been 845 cases in 47 states affecting 59.02 million birds. In total, this is the single largest foreign animal disease outbreak in United States history.
For additional information on HPAI, please visit the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s website.