Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad today (Friday) announced that he is extending the State of Disaster Emergency in response to the avian flu outbreak until July 1st, 2015. The governor’s original disaster declaration was set to expire Sunday, May 31, 2015.
As of Thursday, May 28th, Iowa had 68 cases of the disease in the state. The disease is affecting birds in 18 counties. The counties affected at this time are: Buena Vista, Sac, Osceola, Sioux, O’Brien, Kossuth, Clay, Pocahontas, Cherokee, Madison, Wright, Palo Alto, Lyon, Plymouth, Calhoun, Adair, Webster and Hamilton.
The proclamation of disaster emergency sets into motion and involves:
1. Activation of the disaster response and recovery aspect of the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department’s (HSEMD) Iowa Emergency Response Plan.
2. Authorizing 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. Tracking and monitoring instances of confirmed highly pathogenic avian influenza throughout the state of Iowa and the country,
B. Establishing importation restrictions and prohibitions in respect to animals suspected of suffering from this disease,
C. Rapidly detecting any presumptive or confirmed cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza within Iowa’s borders,
D. Containing the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza within our state through depopulation, disinfections, and disposal of livestock carcasses,
E. Engaging in detection activities, contact tracking, and other investigatory work to stop the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza within our state, and
F. Elimination of 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.
Officials say the virus strains can travel in wild birds without those birds appearing sick. People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.
All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard flock owners, should continue to practice good biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to state/federal officials, either through their state veterinarian at 515-281-5321 or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.