Vigilance Is Vital In Stopping Spread Of Bird Flu

Northwest Iowa — Bird flu has hit eight dairy cattle herds in northwest Iowa this year, and now a third poultry flock. Ag officials said Thursday the virus is confirmed in a commercial turkey flock with over 46-thousand birds in Sac County. Yuko Sato, a poultry veterinarian at Iowa State University, says vigilance is key for Iowa producers.

State ag officials say producers who see signs of the virus in their flock, like a sudden increase in bird deaths or birds that are lethargic, should contact their veterinarian immediately. Lee Maassen is a fifth-generation dairy farmer in northwest Iowa’s Sioux County, one of the hot spots for the virus. As President of the Iowa State Dairy Association, Maassen says he’s keeping a close watch on the issue, and producers are taking bio-security precautions, including limiting visitors. Health officials have also warned against drinking raw milk.

Some dairy cows have died after getting infected, but researchers and veterinarians say most appear to recover after a few weeks with supportive care, like electrolytes and probiotics. So far, Maassen says his dairy is virus-free. Kylie Nettinga, executive director of the Western Iowa Dairy Coalition, says there are 100 dairy farms in northwest Iowa, and biosecurity and surveillance are being done to prevent and track viral spread.

She adds, “Yes, it impacts the cows, but they’re bouncing back, and that’s amazing.”

The USDA is working to try and figure out how the virus spreads from poultry to cattle.

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