Iowa poultry producers keeping eye on new bird flu outbreak in China

DES MOINES — Iowa egg and poultry producers are on high alert as China reports an H-5-N-1 bird flu outbreak has occurred near the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

Iowa Poultry Association CEO and executive director Kevin Stiles says avian influenza is always top of mind for Iowa producers. “I don’t think though that necessarily transmitting into the United States via human contact is the first concern,” Stiles says. “We’re mostly concerned just with migratory patterns that we see and what implications that might hold for us looking ahead.”

Stiles says Iowa’s poultry producers are better prepared now than they were five years ago as biosecurity is much improved. “We continue to work with our producers, with the larger egg and poultry community,” Stiles says, “to practice diligence in their biosecurity practices, to make sure they are always on high alert when it comes to any sort of disease threat, but in particular avian influenza.”

Since the latest Chinese bird flu outbreak was the H-5-N-1 strain, Stiles says it’s more concerning than if it were another type.
“That certainly raises it a little bit higher in our attention, certainly,” he says, “but we also know there are strains and outbreaks of avian influenza in various countries in Europe at the present time, so that also puts us on high alert.”

An outbreak of the similar H-5-N-2 strain of avian flu in 2015 caused more than one-billion dollars damage to Iowa poultry producers as millions of chickens and turkeys had to be destroyed.