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USDA Veterinarian Says H5N2 Is Different From Normal

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Questions are still flying since Monday’s announcement of a second case of avian influenza in Iowa, this time at a northwest Iowa egg farm.

The roughly four million laying hens at that site will be euthanized to control the spread of the disease, and state and industry officials are unsure of the economic impact of eradicating six percent of Iowa’s layer population.

Also unclear is how exactly the current strain of H5N2 avian influenza is transmitted. Wild migratory birds are believed to be the root of the problem, which is one reason Minnesota, with its lakes, has seen so many cases.

Addressing reporters in a teleconference yesterday, USDA’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. John Clifford said authorities are still working on it.

He says, ”We’re trying to determine the possible pathway of introduction into these houses, but my guess is; and right now there’s no solid evidence of such, but my guess it that it’s probably multiple pathways of entry. And that doesn't mean people are using poor biosecurity. In fact, the biosecurity we've had in place has been very beneficial in protecting us from high-pathogenic avian influenza, but this is different than what we've normally been addressing.”

That’s because standard biosecurity protocol addresses disease spread from one farm to the next. Clifford said producers should now incorporate environmental factors into their disease control measures.

Clifford also expects additional cases to occur this fall and next spring as wild birds follow migratory patterns.

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