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article imageH5N2 bird flu hits Iowa farm, infecting 5.3 million chickens

By Karen Graham     Apr 21, 2015 in Business
Almost 5.3 million laying hens at an Iowa farm will have to be destroyed after the highly infectious and deadly bird flu was identified, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Monday.
Many of the laying hens in the Iowa flock have tested positive for the H5N2 virus, making this the single biggest outbreak in the U.S. so far this year. This latest news has many in the poultry industry worries that turkey and egg supplies will be impacted by the disease.
“Despite best efforts, we now confirm many of our birds are testing positive” for avian influenza, closely held Sonstegard Foods Co. said in a statement dated April 20. Sonstegard's Sunrise Farms unit is close to Harris in northwest Iowa's Osceola County, has 10 percent of the state's egg-laying hens. With Iowa's total flock size at 59 million hens, the state accounts for one in five eggs consumed in the U.S.
Poultry industry consultant Simon Shane, who also teaches poultry science and veterinary medicine at North Carolina State University, says we don't need to panic, just yet. If 20 to 30 million hens become infected, consumers should start seeing a rise in egg prices.
"It may not have a direct effect on shell egg pricing, but any time you take production out of a marketplace there's likely to be some consequence," Iowa Poultry Association Executive Director Randy Olson told the Des Moines Register. "I anticipate the market and production will recover, but right now we're reminding people that this is not a food safety issue and it's not a human health issue."
A number of Midwestern states have been hit by the bird flu virus this year, costing turkey and chicken producers 7.8 million birds since march. First detected in a turkey operation in Minnesota, the H5N2 virus has shown up in commercial farms in Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Since Monday, the virus has shown up again in a backyard flock of mixed birds in Wisconsin and another turkey farm in Minnesota.
Scientists are still saying they believe the virus has been spread by wild waterfowl flying the Mississippi River migratory route, although bio-security measures imposed on commercial operations are supposed to reduce the risk of infection. China has imposed a ban on U.S. poultry, as well as other countries.
More about Bird flu, iowa chicken farm, hormel foods, shell eggs, turkey sales
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