DES MOINES — Iowa has discovered a second outbreak of avian influenza, this time at a commercial chicken laying facility in Osceola County in northwest Iowa, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday.
The facility has 5.3 million hens. All the birds in the flock will be euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease, officials said.
Last week, H5N2 avian influenza was discovered in a flock of 27,000 turkeys in Buena Vista County. Those birds also were euthanized. The disease is capable of killing an entire flock within 48 hours.
Scientists and government officials believe the virus is being spread through migratory birds in the Mississippi flyway, where the strain previously has been identified. The birds are believed to transmit the illness through their droppings.
The poultry industry has increased biosecurity efforts. Last week, officials said they were concerned the poultry-killing disease would make its way into the state’s commercial egg-laying industry, which is the largest in the nation.
It’s a $2 billion industry in Iowa, which has about 50 million hens that lay nearly one in every five eggs consumed in the country.
Federal and state health officials consider the risk to people to be low from these infections in wild birds, backyard flocks and commercial poultry. No human infections with the virus have ever been detected.
The northwest Iowa flock experienced increased mortality and samples were sent to the South Dakota State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for preliminary testing, the USDA said. The National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames confirmed the findings.
The facility and poultry facilities within 10 kilometers around it have been quarantined. State officials will test commercial and backyard poultry in the area for the disease to determine that they’re free of the virus.
The lethal virus strain has been found in several states, including Arkansas, Wisconsin, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. More than 1 million birds have been killed by the disease or by authorities working to prevent it from spreading.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and the Iowa Department of Public Health are working directly with poultry workers at the affected facility to ensure proper precautions are being taken, USDA said.