Producers Preparing For Possible Return Of Bird Flu

chickensNorthwest Iowa — Northwest Iowa egg and poultry producers are preparing for a possible return of avian influenza this fall as migrating wild waterfowl are again flying over. The bird flu wiped out 34-million chickens and turkeys on 77 Iowa farms this spring. Randy Olson, executive director of the Iowa Poultry and Egg Association, says experts’ predictions about the fall migration are varied.

The U-S-D-A is preparing to handle an outbreak on more than 500 farms this fall, which is twice the scale of the spring outbreak.

Last month, Ames-based Harris Vaccines received conditional federal approval for its avian influenza vaccine, which is reported to be up to 95-percent effective. The U-S-D-A has hired around 200 of a planned 350 additional veterinarians, animal health technicians and other workers should a bird flu emergency occur. Olson says those are very positive moves.

If there’s another avian influenza outbreak this fall on the scale of last spring, Olson says it would be devastating to the industry.

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