Fall bird migration raises bird flu concern for Iowa poultry producers

Iowa Ag Secretary Mike Naig says the fall migration of wild birds is a danger sign for poultry producers about the potential for Avian Influenza exposure. Naig says the first major outbreak in 2015 saw a lot of contamination between sites, but the most recent outbreak saw isolated exposures in facilities brought on by wild birds.

“I think the lessons of the last couple of years would tell us that it’s not just during the spring migration, when birds are flying north that you can see high path, it’s unfortunately, also in that fall migration when birds are flying south that you can see it,” Naig says. He says there are already confirmed cases in two states to the north of us. “In South Dakota and Minnesota, and that’s pretty logical as those birds start to come south we’re going to see an increased threat here in the state of Iowa, to our poultry producers,” Naig says. “And so it’s just a time of high alert. And folks really need to be vigilant in watching the health of their birds and calling us if they see anything or have questions.”

Naig says producers can’t take anything for granted when it comes to keeping down the contact with wild birds. “Trying to keep what’s outside, and what’s inside inside. You don’t want to track, you know what could be outside into those buildings. That means taking care of your boots, that means securing your buildings, you know, there’s any number of things that you can do, but it takes vigilance every single day,” he says.

The Avian Influenza or bird flu can have different strains, but Naig says he doesn’t know yet what the test results show from the early cases. “I have not seen the analysis yet on whether or not this is the same strain as we’ve seen in previous years. But I think we’ll all be watching very closely to understand that,” Naig says. There were some 77 facilities impacted in the first major outbreak in 2015, with millions of birds destroyed. The most recent outbreak saw 32 facilities impacted.