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What does China’s outbreak of bird flu mean for Iowa?

The fact that these viruses are happening at the same time are a complete coincidence, according to the Iowa Department of Agriculture.

DES MOINES — China is already in the middle of the novel coronavirus, but now it’s also facing a new strand of the avian flu.

The fact that these viruses are happening at the same time are a complete coincidence, according to the Iowa Department of Agriculture.

It’s causing a bit of a scare in Iowa, especially after a different strand of the disease left millions of chickens and turkeys sick in 2015. Unfortunately, those animals were destroyed, and Iowa poultry producers saw over $1 billion in damages.

Even though this is a different kind of bird flu, the Dept. of Agriculture says they are ready for it.

“As with a lot of foreign animal diseases, you don’t want to vaccinate ahead of time and confuse issues of being able to pick up the disease if it were introduced,” said Dr. Jeff Kaisand with the Iowa Deptartment of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

Interestingly, the United States doesn’t vaccinate poultry for this type of virus.

This strand doesn’t affect humans, but it could still cause farmers to lose their money and livelihood.

Here are some signs of the bird flu that you should be aware of:

  • an increase of deaths in your flock
  • pay close attention to respiratory issues
  • keep an eye on decrease in food or water consumption

If you notice any of these signs, contact the Dept. of Agriculture or a state or federal official immediately.

Take extra precautions as well, like:

  • making sure wild birds stay away from your coops or barns
  • washing your boots after wearing them

“Just a usual reminder: be prepared and understand what could happen and have a plan on your farm,” Dr. Kaisand said.