University of Nebraska Medical Center

Nearly 3 million birds euthanized in Iowa due to Avian Influenza

HIgh Plains Journal

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza continues to spread across the High Plains and the Midwest and Iowa has become a hotspot for this contagious poultry disease. There are now 15 reported outbreaks in commercial poultry operations and backyard flocks across the state. These avian flu cases have led to the euthanasia of nearly 3 million chickens, ducks, turkeys, pheasants, peafowl, quail and chukars since October.

The most recent breakout was at a commercial egg-laying operation, where 1.6 million hens in Sioux County, Iowa, had to be destroyed to prevent the disease from spreading further. Iowa’s death toll in the last two months has already surpassed the number of birds lost to avian influenza in 2022. Iowa is the nation’s leading egg producer and with how fast the avian flu is spreading, consumers should be prepared to a shift in egg prices in the future.

Symptoms of HPAI include: coughing and sneezing, difficulty breathing, extreme depression, lack of energy, decrease in feed or water intake, swelling or purple discoloration of head, eyelids, comb, wattle and legs, decrease in egg production, quietness among the flock and sudden, unexplained death.

If you suspect a case of HPAI, contact your local county Extension educator, a veterinarian or your state animal disease diagnostic laboratory for testing. Anyone with knowledge of birds that have avian flu or have been exposed to the disease are legally required to promptly report it the state veterinarian.

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