Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has returned to the Upper Midwest of the United States with a vengeance. After a break from spring through early fall, new case reports are stacking up for commercial flocks.

The new bird flu reports  include the following:

  • A commercial turkey flock in Buena Vista County, Iowa.
  • A commercial turkey flock with 49,700 birds in Faulk County, SD.
  • A commercial turkey flock with 65,000 birds in McPherson County, SD.
  • A turkey breeder operations with 2,700 toms in Becker County, MN
  • A commercial turkey  flock with 72,100 birds in Meeker County, MN

The discovery of bird flu in a commercial flock usually results in “depopulation,” meaning the impacted birds must all be euthanized

With the state’s first case since March 2023, Iowa Gov.  Kim Reynolds issued a disaster proclamation on Oct. 20 for the new bird flu cases. Her action permits the state to track, monitor, detect, contain, dispose and disinfect the virus.

Iowa lost 15 million birds to bird flu in 2022 through March 2023.

The resumption of cases has agriculture officials again educating people on the HPAI warning signs. They include:

  • Decrease in feed or water intake.
  •   Swelling or purple discoloration of the head, eyelids, comb, wattle, and hocks.
  • Decrease in egg production
  • Sudden, unexplained death
  • Extreme depression 
  • Very quiet
  • Breathing difficulty

Scientists say some wild birds have developed immunity to bird flu, which is seen as an encouraging sign. Since wild birds have spread flu around the globe, immunity might lessen the spread in the future.

HPAI has infected commercial poultry, totaling more than 59 million in 47 states since 2022. In April 2022, just one person who recovered was inflected with HPAI.

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