No bird flu yet, but it could come with a variant

by | Apr 1, 2024 | 5 Ag Stories, News

We have spent too much time having to deal with the High-Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), more commonly known as bird flu. We all remember the devastation we saw in the upper Midwest in 2015. We remember the thousands upon thousands of animals affected and farms hurt by this deadly disease. Recently it’s reared its ugly head again, especially coming and going with the spring and fall migrations.

While we have dealt with the disease a few times in the past couple of years, we have been fortunate so far in the state of Iowa. And, no, I am not trying to jinx us. Iowa Ag Secretary Mike Naig says he is knocking on whatever wooden objects he can find that we don’t have an outbreak any time soon.

However, there has been a new variant that has been showing up, and that is the fact that HPAI seems to have jumped the species barrier and is affecting dairy cattle in some of the western and southern plains. Secretary Naig said that IDALS is watching this very closely but is not going to engage in any knee-jerk reactions until more data is collected.

As of now, we are seeing the data suggest that the dairy herds being affected are just seeing the animals get sick like any of us would with a normal strain of the flu. Dairy herds do not have to be destroyed, nor is their milk tainted in any way. It is seemingly just making the herds lethargic, requiring medical evaluation and simple treatments.

In the past few years, IDALS has imposed a state-wide, 30-day ban on shows and expos involving birds if the disease is detected anywhere in the state. If necessary, this would include county fairs and even the state fair, though that hasn’t happened recently at all.