About 5.3 million laying hens in northwest Iowa will be destroyed after tests confirmed a second outbreak of avian influenza in the state, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday.
It's the largest operation in the nation to be hit with the virus since December, federal documents show. The commercial egg-laying facility, located in Osceola County, more than doubles the number of birds destroyed so far in the country because of the disease."It's one of the bigger farms in the state," said Bill Northey, Iowa's secretary of agriculture. "But when there's an outbreak like this, you have to make sure the disease doesn't leave."Because of avian influenza, the state's $2 billion commercial egg-laying industry has been on high alert this spring. Iowa, the nation's largest egg producer, has about 50 million hens and supplies nearly 1 in every 5 eggs consumed in the United States...Last week, H5N2 avian influenza was discovered in a flock of 27,000 turkeys in Buena Vista County. Those birds also were euthanized to contain the spread.Before Monday's announcement, more than 2.6 million birds had been killed by the disease or by authorities working to prevent it from spreading.The virus is capable of killing an entire flock within 48 hours.The names of the Iowa operators or their locations haven't been released. Olson said the family-owned operation in Osceola County provided liquid eggs for use in baked goods.
Destroying your whole flock would be just brutal. It is believed the disease has been spread by migrating birds in the Mississippi River flyway. At least officials don't believe there is any threat to human health.