Iowa farm forced to dispose of 4.2 million chickens due to bird flu outbreak

According to the Department of Agriculture, since the disease spread in 2022, 92.34 million birds have had to be euthanized.

A farm in Des Moines, Iowa, will have to euthanize 4.2 million of its laying hens after detecting a new outbreak of bird flu. These chickens join the 92.34 million birds that have had to be euthanized as a result of this disease, according to the Department of Agriculture. This disease is highly contagious and deadly among birds and has been affecting the state, whose main income derives from egg production, for two years.

Iowa is the top egg producer in the nation and has had, in recent years, its two largest outbreaks of this disease. Five million chickens had to be euthanized in Osceola County in 2022. The figure is now joined by the 4.2 million that were killed at the Des Moines farm. All of this has forced Governor Kim Reynolds to make a disaster proclamation that will last until June 27:

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced the signing of a disaster proclamation for Sioux County, Iowa effective immediately through June 27, 2024. The USDA has confirmed a positive case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in commercial layer chickens. This proclamation allows state resources from Iowa Homeland Security, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and other agencies to assist with tracking and monitoring, rapid detection, containment, disposal, and disinfection. The proclamation also waives regulatory provisions related to commercial vehicles responding to affected sites.

Contagion to livestock, the real danger of bird flu

Although avian flu is deadly to birds, it poses no immediate public health concern to humans and it remains safe to consume poultry products. The real problem is when the disease is spread to livestock, since from there it can be transmitted more easily to humans.

That's what happened two weeks ago when, NBC News recalls, bird flu was detected in two dairy farm workers. After the outbreak was discovered, the livestock on that farm was investigated and it was discovered that both the milk and meat were contaminated. The same situation has been detected in several farms in up to nine states.

The problems that this disease causes when transmitted to humans, however, could soon end. A group of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania are working on a new mRNA vaccine to treat avian flu. According to the university, researchers have already achieved some success in the development of this treatment that serves to prevent the disease in humans, wild animals and livestock.