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South Dakota and Midwest brace for another round of bird flu

The ongoing spread across the country has reached from South Dakota up to Maine. Miller said biosecurity measures have fortunately taken a step up.
Published: Mar. 7, 2022 at 8:44 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - South Dakota joins a number of states across the country now reporting outbreaks of avian influenza. While it’s impact so far has been minimal, it’s still a concern for many who remember the last deadly outbreak in 2015.

Charles Mix County is the first in South Dakota to record an outbreak of the latest wave of avian flu. According to the USDA, over 63,000 birds were exposed in the county alone, and it has animal health experts on high alert.

“We’re certainly hoping it’s not like 2015. That was a really bad year, obviously. It impacted us as a state, and there were other states that were far more heavily impacted than us.” said Assistant State Veterinarian Mendel Miller.

That fear of another wave of influenza like 2015 has states on edge. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has already signed a disaster proclamation for Buena Vista County after avian flu was detected there. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo has closed it’s aviary after an outbreak was detected across the Missouri River in Pottawattamie County, Iowa.

“We care about our birds. We are taking every precaution that we can. It’s gonna be a little bit rough for all of us to make some changes that we need to make, but we really want to make sure that we are safe and that also we are not contributing to AI spreading around, especially to our friends in the poultry industry around us.” said Sarah Woodhouse, Director of Animal Health at the Henry Doorly Zoo.

The ongoing spread across the country has reached from South Dakota up to Maine. Miller said biosecurity measures have fortunately taken a step up in the last seven years, ready to take on the challenge of new avian flu outbreaks.

“We preach to our producers the biosecurity aspect, and trying to be as clean as they can, and protect their birds as much as they can.” said Miller.

Still Miller said, producers will need to be aware of any outbreaks across the country, remembering lessons learned from 2015 to not let their guard down.

“You know I think in 2015, we saw just repeated occurrences that lasted over a several week timeframe. I think it was the warmer weather at that time that got it stopped for most people.” said Miller.

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