Bird Flu Could Be In A Quarter Of Iowa Hens

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On Friday, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad declared a state of emergency in Iowa to address the spread of avian influenza.

H5-N2 avian flu is not lethal to humans, but it is for birds, and it’s been identified in 12 cases across the state, with another nine cases suspected. In all, more than one quarter of Iowa’s laying hen population is on farms with either confirmed or presumed cases of bird flu.

In response, Branstad issued a statewide disaster proclamation on Friday. His proclamation activates the State Emergency Operation Center under Iowa’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management department, to assemble the different agencies involved.

Some of the work ahead for officials is disposal of 16.5 million carcasses.

He says, "First of all, it’s a huge problem. And it’s going to take some time, and it’s easier, I think, with the turkeys, than it’s goingto be with the laying hens that are in these cages, and trying to get the dead hens out of the cases when you have,in some cases, millions of them. That’s goingto be a big challenge."In addition, Branstad said he intends for the Iowa Department of Transportation to issue guidelines and directions for vehicles hauling the carcasses.

The governor’s disaster proclamation will last through midnight, May 31st, unless he abbreviates it, or extends it.

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