Avian flu found in Iowa dairy herd

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(The Center Square) – The first known case of highly pathogenic avian influenza in an Iowa dairy was reported this week, according to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

The case was detected in a dairy herd in O’Brien County.

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has confirmed more than 80 dairy cases across other states, including South Dakota, Texas, Ohio, North Carolina, Michigan, Kansas, Idaho and Colorado.

It is not thought to be a threat to humans, and there are no known human cases in Iowa, according to the department.

“Given the spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza within dairy cattle in many other states, it is not a surprise that we would have a case given the size of our dairy industry in Iowa,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “While lactating dairy cattle appear to recover with supportive care, we know this destructive virus continues to be deadly for poultry. Our team at the Department has been preparing for this possibility and will soon be announcing additional response steps to protect our flocks and herds.”

Last week, Iowa got its first reported case of avian flu affecting over 4 million birds in a flock of layer chickens in Sioux City. On Wednesday, the agriculture department said the genomic sequencing of that virus was determined to be consistent with the variant found in dairies in other states.

Avian flu was also detected in a commercial turkey flock in Cherokee County.

“Poultry producers and dairy farmers should immediately take steps to harden their biosecurity defenses, limit unnecessary visitors, and report symptomatic birds or cattle to the Department. This remains an evolving situation and we will continue to be in close communication with stakeholders, USDA, and other states as we evaluate our response. Our top priority is to protect our livestock and the farmers and people who care for them,” said Naig.

Consumers can continue enjoying poultry products, the agriculture department said, and proper handling and cooking of eggs and poultry products should remain in use.

While there are no known cases of avian flu in humans in Iowa, the CDC confirmed three cases in dairy workers in Texas and Michigan. However, the threat to humans remains “low,” the CDC said. The dairy workers only reported symptoms of an eye infection.

There are currently nine states with outbreaks of avian flu in cows and 48 states with poultry outbreaks, the CDC said.

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