Wright County Taking Proactive Measures Against Bird Flu

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WRIGHT COUNTY, Iowa--The Wright County Board of Supervisors declared a State of Emergency in an effort to prevent the flu from spreading to poultry producers there.

Thousands of laying hens call Wright County home.

The county leads the state in poultry population with 15 million birds in more than 20 locations.

That's why the Wright County Board of Supervisors knew they had to take a proactive approach to the avian flu outbreak.

“I never thought we would ever use it, it's totally different from any other declaration we've done but we felt it was important enough that we needed to do something,” says Board Member Stan Watne.

Watne says in the county’s emergency planning there's a section that deals with agriculture prevention, which allowed them to declare a State of Emergency.

He says that allows the county to close off certain roads and keep poultry products away from the plants.

“We really aren't sure how it is transmitted, we think it could be from feathers, dander, residue from the wild birds or domesticated birds so that's one reason we'd like to see poultry products diverted away from this area and see if maybe that would help not get it.”

Watne says the economic impact to Wright County would be a detrimental if the avian bird flu hit.

“They employ 600 people and probably two the three times that in support group in feed, trucking, even manure handling, and so the effects of having these all shut down for up to two years to recover it would be devastating.”

A majority of the facilities are operated by Centrum Valley Farms.

“Keeping our hens healthy and well cared for during this time of heightened concern about avian influenza in Iowa is our priority and our responsibility as egg farmers. We are taking this very seriously and we have implemented extensive bio-security protocols to protect our flocks,” Centrum Valley Farms COO Steve Boomsma said in a statement.

Watne says although no one can predict if the avian bird flu will hit Wright County the board needed to take steps to try to prevent it.

“It may not help but we're going to give it our best shot.”

The board says this is the first time it's enacted a State of Emergency before an emergency has happened.

The board says it will continue to monitor the situation and take other actions as needed.