Turkey Federation Executive Director Unsure Why Bird Flu Outbreaks Have Returned

Iowa Turkey Federation executive director, Gretta Irwin, says the industry isn’t sure why there’s been a cluster of bird flu cases recently confirmed in several northwest Iowa turkey flocks…(audio clip below :18 )

Around 400-thousand turkeys have died or have been destroyed to prevent the spread of the disease in the last week. The virus has recently been detected in commercial turkey flocks in Buena Vista, Cherokee, Ida, and Sac Counties. There have now been a total of 30 known infected commercial and backyard flocks in Iowa this year, with a total of 16-million birds.

Wild birds can carry the virus and shed it to poultry. A wildlife extension specialist says the vast majority of wild birds that migrate through Iowa have passed through. But there are some that stay for the winter, and a lot of birds fly through northwest Iowa on their migration south.

Tyson Foods owns a turkey processing plant in Storm Lake. The company didn’t respond to questions about how the loss of those turkeys is impacting processing there, as a Tyson spokesperson says the company doesn’t disclose production numbers at individual plants. Iowa State University agriculture economist Chad Hart says the loss of those turkeys creates a processing hole…(audio clip below :07 )

The executive director of the Iowa Turkey Federation says the local impact is large, although it’s a small impact to turkey processing nationwide.

(thanks to Radio Iowa and Iowa Public Radio for contributing)