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New cases of avian flu detected in western Iowa, Maryland and South Dakota in the past week

Over the past month, highly lethal bird flu cases have been confirmed at commercial farms in Iowa, South Dakota, Maryland, Indiana, Kentucky and Delaware, triggering export restrictions for U.S. poultry products.

A file photo of a commercial turkey flock.
A file photo of a commercial turkey flock.
Contributed / U.S. Department of Agriculture file photo
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported outbreaks of a highly lethal type of bird flu in private and commercial flocks in Iowa in the past week and commercial flocks in Maryland and South Dakota over the weekend, adding to concerns that wild birds are spreading the disease across the country.

A highly pathogenic form of bird flu was reported in a commercial turkey flock in Iowa, making it the second reported outbreak in the top egg-producing state of the United States in less than a week.

The latest Iowa outbreak was confirmed in Buena Vista County on Monday by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Storm Lake, the county seat of Buena Vista County, is located about 70 miles south of Worthington , Minnesota .

"The Iowa Department of Agriculture and USDA APHIS are working diligently with producers to trace back, control and eradicate this disease from our state," Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig said in a statement.

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Gov. Kim Reynolds also signed a disaster proclamation for Buena Vista County to assist with tracking, detection and elimination of the disease.

Last week, Iowa reported a case of bird flu in a backyard poultry flock in Pottawattamie County. The flock, which was not being raised for commercial production, will be culled to prevent the spread of the disease, Iowa said. Pottawattamie County is located directly east of the Missouri River and Omaha, Nebraska.

Over the past month, highly lethal bird flu cases have been confirmed at commercial farms in Iowa, South Dakota, Maryland, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Delaware, triggering export restrictions for U.S. poultry products.

Farmers are ordered to kill their flocks after the disease is detected, and importing countries including Mexico, China and Korea have imposed state-specific import restrictions in response.

The disease is already widespread in Europe and affecting Africa, Asia and Canada. The United States is the world's largest producer and second-largest exporter of poultry meat, according to the U.S. government.

The bird flu outbreak is the worst since 2015, when nearly 50 million birds, mostly turkeys and egg-laying chickens in the U.S. Midwest, were killed. It comes at a time when food prices are skyrocketing due to labor shortages, supply-chain problems and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a key wheat and corn exporter.

Maryland's outbreak involves a commercial layer farm in Cecil County, which is located in the far northeastern corner of the state on the border with Pennsylvania and Delaware, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said in a March 5 statement .

The Maryland Department of Agriculture said the virus was confirmed as H5N1 and that the outbreak comes one week after the virus was detected in Delaware, which prompted expanded surveillance in the Delmarva Peninsula.

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In early February, live-waterfowl testing during surveillance activities turned up the virus in a bird from Maryland's Kent County.

South Dakota's outbreak involves a mixed species commercial farm in Charles Mix County, which is located in the southeastern part of the state near the Nebraska border, according to a separate statement Monday from APHIS.

Following detections in waterfowl that began in the middle of January along the eastern seaboard, Indiana in early February reported the first related outbreak in poultry. South Dakota's outbreaks mark the westernmost spread to poultry so far.

USDA reported the H5N1 strain in wild birds in the Carolinas earlier this year. The strain can be passed on to humans, though U.S. officials said there is a low risk to people.

In related developments, the USDA reported six more detections from wild bird surveillance , raising the total number of positives to 303. The new reports include the first two waterfowl detections from Tennessee, which were hunter-harvested birds in Obion County. So far, the USDA has reported 303 positives in wild birds.

Below are other outbreaks reported by USDA to date.

IOWA: Iowa reported a highly lethal form of bird flu was reported in a commercial turkey flock in Buena Vista County in northwest Iowa on March 7. The state also reported the bird flu in a backyard poultry flock of 42 chickens on March 2, expanding a U.S. outbreak of the disease to the top egg-producing state. In 2015, Iowa was at the center of the biggest-ever U.S. outbreak of avian flu.

SOUTH DAKOTA: USDA reported an outbreak of a highly lethal type of bird flu involves a mixed species commercial farm in Charles Mix County in southeast South Dakota on March 5.

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MARYLAND: USDA reported an outbreak of bird flu at a commercial layer farm in Cecil County in northeastern Maryland on March 5.

MISSOURI: USDA reported an outbreak of a highly lethal type of bird flu in a commercial flock of chickens being raised for meat in Stoddard County, Missouri, on March 4.

The outbreak was confirmed as the H5N1 strain of avian flu in a flock of about 240,000 broiler chickens in the southeastern Missouri county, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said.

DELAWARE: A commercial poultry farm with 1.2 million birds was hit by highly lethal bird flu on Feb. 23, significantly expanding the number of birds impacted in the United States.

KENTUCKY: A flock of about 240,000 chickens owned by Tyson Foods Inc in Kentucky tested positive for a highly lethal form of bird flu, government officials and the company said on Feb. 14.

Testing confirmed a highly lethal form of bird flu in a 53,286-bird commercial turkey flock in Kentucky, the state said on Feb. 16, expanding outbreaks in the U.S. poultry sector.

INDIANA: USDA reported an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian flu in an Indiana turkey flock on Feb. 9. The outbreak infected a flock of 29,015 birds, the nation's first case in a commercial poultry operation since 2020.

Indiana also reported a case of H5 bird flu at a commercial turkey farm on Feb. 15, impacting a flock of 26,625 turkeys.

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