Farmers must kill 4.2 million chickens after bird flu hits Iowa egg farm

FILE – Chickens stand in their cages at a farm, Nov. 16, 2009, near Stuart, Iowa. More than 4 million chickens in Iowa will have to be killed after a case of the highly pathogenic bird flu was detected at a large egg farm , the state announced Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — More than 4 million chickens in Iowa will have to be killed after a case of the highly pathogenic bird flu was detected at a large egg farm, the state announced Tuesday.

Crews are in the process of killing 4.2 million chickens after the disease was found at a farm in Sioux County, Iowa, making it the latest in a yearslong outbreak that is now affecting dairy cattle as well. Last week, the virus was confirmed at an egg farm west of Minneapolis, Minnesota, leading to the slaughter of nearly 1.4 million chickens.

Overall, 92.34 million birds have been killed since the outbreak began in 2022, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Although bird flu has become somewhat common among poultry, its spread to livestock has added to concerns about the disease. In May, a second dairy farmer was diagnosed with bird flu, and the virus was detected in both beef and milk. It has been confirmed on dairy cattle farms in nine states.

Health and agriculture officials have said the risk to the public remains low. The US Department of Agriculture said the meat from a single sickened dairy cow was not allowed to enter the nation’s food supply and beef remains safe to eat.

Workers exposed to infected animals are at a higher risk. The only three human cases confirmed in the United States included two dairy workers and one man working to slaughter infected birds on a poultry farm.