Texas becomes latest state, reporting case in commercial pheasant flock.

Krissa Welshans, Livestock Editor

April 4, 2022

2 Min Read
Getty Images/iStock

Just days after Iowa, the nation’s largest egg producing state with over 60 million laying hens, reported over 8 million birds had been affected by highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), the state announced the virus was confirmed at a commercial layer operation of over 5 million birds. It also reported the virus has been discovered at another commercial turkey operation, bringing the total number of birds affected by the virus to over 13 million.

Over 20 states have reported at least one case of HPAI since early February, with over 17 million birds affected. Over the weekend, Texas became the latest after the virus was confirmed in a commercial pheasant flock in Erath County.

During an appearance on Iowa Press, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig said there is a distinct difference in how the virus is spreading this year compared to the last time the U.S. dealt with the virus in 2015.

“We have a lot of wild bird introductions where wild birds are carrying the virus, they’re interacting with the domestic bird population, and we end up with positives. In 2015, it was spreading from site to site or from farm to farm, so that’s a pretty distinct difference between the two,” he explained, adding that this makes it more difficult to control.

To date, 12 cases have been discovered in the state and more cases are expected in the future, Naig said.

If cases continue to rise, poultry and egg prices as well as availability will likely be affected, but “the good news about the poultry industry is that they can restock quickly.”

Egg prices now average $2.88 per dozen, up 52% since HPAI was first confirmed in February and the highest level since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

Naig said the U.S. still has a couple of months to go in the battle against HPAI since birds are still migrating, which is why producers must act quickly to contain the virus.

“This isn’t just an Iowa issue; this is a U.S. issue.”

As part of existing avian influenza response plans, federal and state partners are working jointly on additional surveillance and testing in areas around the affected flocks.

“Anyone involved with poultry production from the small backyard to the large commercial producer should review their biosecurity activities to assure the health of their birds,” APHIS said.

Materials about biosecurity, including videos, checklists, and a toolkit are available here.



About the Author(s)

Krissa Welshans

Livestock Editor

Krissa Welshans grew up on a crop farm and cow-calf operation in Marlette, Michigan. Welshans earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Michigan State University and master’s degree in public policy from New England College. She and her husband Brock run a show cattle operation in Henrietta, Texas, where they reside with their son, Wynn.

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