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Millions of birds affected with avian flu

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(The Center Square) – Iowa’s first reported case of avian flu affected 4.2 million birds, according to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

The case involves a flock of commercial layer chickens in Sioux City, according to the agriculture department.

Avian flu poses a low risk to humans, the department said in a news release.

“As a reminder, consumers should always utilize the proper handling and cooking of eggs and poultry products, including cooking to an internal temperature of 165˚F,” the department said. “It is a longstanding practice that only milk from healthy animals may enter the food supply. There is no concern about the safety of pasteurized milk or dairy products. Pasteurization has continually proven to successfully inactivate bacteria and viruses, like influenza, in milk.”

Gov. Kim Reynolds issued an emergency proclamation for Sioux County on Tuesday, which allows state resources to help farmers track and monitor the disease. Regulatory provisions for commercial vehicles responding to sites affected by the flu are also waived.

Avian flu has been found in cattle in other states.

“We have not had any cases in Iowa, but we are strongly encouraging dairy producers to remain vigilant and heighten their biosecurity,” Don McDowell, director of communications for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, said in an email to The Center Square.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced last week that it is providing financial support of up to $1,500 to cattle farmers who install a biosecurity system and up to $2,000 for testing costs.

Funding to reimburse farmers for milk production loss is expected to be announced in a rulemaking soon, the USDA said.

“While dairy cows that have been infected with H5N1 generally recover well, and there is little mortality associated with the disease, it does dramatically limit milk production, causing economic losses for producers with affected premises,” the agency said.

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