Avian influenza spreads across Iowa

by Lowell Washburn

To paraphrase former U.S. President, Ronald Reagan, “Here we go again.”

A new wave of highly pathogenic avian influenza [HPAI] is currently sweeping across North America.  Similar to the outbreak which occurred during 2015, a Eurasian-origin strain of HPAI [commonly known as bird flu] was first detected in a captive, multi-species Canadian bird flock in December of 2021.  In January 2022, a U.S. Department of Agriculture [USDA] surveillance program discovered the pathogen in a hunter harvested American wigeon from South Carolina.  In February, the first outbreak in a commercial poultry [turkey] operation was reported in Indiana.  Since February, additional detections have been reported in commercial poultry flocks, backyard flocks, and wild bird populations across the U.S.

According to the USDA, avian influenza viruses are classified as either low pathogenic or highly pathogenic based on their genetic features and the severity of disease they cause in poultry.  Signs of infection include seizures, tremors, and respitory distress.  Domestic birds become symptomatic within three to five days of exposure to the virus.    

IOWA: In early March, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship announced the first detection of highly pathogenic [H5N1] influenza in a backyard poultry flock in Pottawattamie County.  By mid-March, HPAI 

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