During a 4pm (EDT) press conference today, Iowa Governor Terry E. Branstad announced the declaration of a statewide state of emergency due to the ongoing avian flu outbreak affecting millions of chickens and turkeys in his state.
This afternoon, Iowa Agriculture officials are also reporting four more farms with probable H5N2 infection, raising the total to 21 farms, across 10 counties. Roughly 16 million birds have died, or will be culled, in Iowa alone – roughly 25% of that state’s layer population.
While the threat to human health is considered low at this time, this state of Emergency will allow the governor to authorize the use of state money and resources to track and monitor cases, restrict and monitor the movement of poultry, and to safely dispose of millions of dead birds.
Here is the statement from the Governor’s Office.
Date: May 01, 2015
Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad today was joined by Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Mark Schouten to provide an update on the ongoing efforts to stop the avian influenza outbreak in Iowa. In addition, Gov. Branstad announced that he is declaring a state of emergency in Iowa. The disaster proclamation can be viewed here.
“While the avian influenza outbreak does not pose a risk to humans, we are taking the matter very seriously and believe declaring a state of emergency is the best way to make all resources available,” said Branstad. “Even before the virus began in Iowa, our office was monitoring the outbreak in other states. We’ll continue our work – as we’ve been doing since the first outbreak in Buena Vista County – in hopes of stopping the virus’ aggressive spread throughout Iowa.”
At time of press, 21 sites spanning 10 Iowa counties have cases that are either presumed positives or confirmed positives. The counties include: Buena Vista, Cherokee, Clay, Kossuth, Madison, O’Brien, Osceola, Pocahontas, Sac and Sioux.
“Iowa’s poultry farms are an important part of our state’s agriculture industry. This disease is having a far reaching impact and, unfortunately, it has continued to spread. We have seen tremendous support and coordination from state, federal and local partners and this emergency declaration will allow the state to continue to respond aggressively to this disease outbreak,” Northey said.
In addition, Gov. Branstad today declared a state of emergency due to the outbreak. The proclamation is effective immediately and will continue until May 31, 2015, at 11:59 p.m., unless sooner terminated or extended by the governor.
The proclamation of disaster emergency can be read below and does the following:
- 1. Activates the disaster response and recovery aspect of the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department’s (HSEMD) Iowa Emergency Response Plan.
- 2. Authorizes the use and deployment of all available state resources, supplies, equipment, and materials as are deemed reasonably necessary by the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and Iowa HSEMD in order to do the following:
- A. Track and monitor instances of confirmed highly pathogenic avian influenza throughout the state of Iowa and the country,
- B. Establish importation restrictions and prohibitions in respect to animals suspected of suffering from this disease,
- C. Rapidly detect any presumptive or confirmed cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza within Iowa’s borders,
- D. Contain the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza within our state through depopulation, disinfections, and disposal of livestock carcasses,
- E. Engage in detection activities, contact tracking, and other investigatory work to stop the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza within our state, and
- F. Eliminate the disease in those disaster counties where it has been found and lessen the risk of this disease spreading to our state as a whole.
- 3. Temporarily authorizes the Iowa HSEMD, the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT), the Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS), the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), other state agencies, and local law enforcement agencies and private contractors employed by the same to remove and/or dispose of live animals and animal carcasses on publicly or privately owned land when those live animals and/or carcasses threaten public health or safety.
- 4. Authorizes the Iowa HSEMD, the Iowa DOT, the Iowa DPS, the Iowa DNR, IDPH, other state agencies, and local law enforcement agencies to implement stop movement and stop loading restrictions and other control zone measures as are reasonably deemed necessary, including establishing buffer zones, checkpoints, and cleaning and disinfecting operations at checkpoints and borders surrounding any quarantine areas established by the IDALS or at any other location in the state of Iowa, in order to stop the spread of this contagious disease.
- 5. Authorizes state agencies to assist the IDALS in disinfection, depopulation, and livestock carcass disposal efforts.
- 6. Temporarily waives restrictions to allow for the timely and efficient disposal of poultry carcasses.
- 7. Temporarily suspends the regulatory provisions pertaining to hours of service for commercial vehicle drivers hauling poultry carcasses infected with or exposed to highly pathogenic avian influenza or while hauling loads otherwise related to the response to this disaster during its duration, subject to certain conditions outlined in the disaster proclamation.
Meanwhile, Minnesota is reporting two additional (presumed) positive poultry operations, bringing that state’s total to 72 farms, and just under 4 million birds affected.