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

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

Crews are in the process of culling 4.2 million chickens after the disease was discovered on a farm in Sioux County, Iowa, making it the latest in a years-long epidemic that is now also affecting dairy cattle. Last week, the virus was confirmed at an egg farm west of Minneapolis, Minnesota, leading to the slaughter of nearly 1.4 million chickens.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a total of 92.34 million birds have died since the outbreak in 2022.

Although bird flu has become quite common among poultry, its spread to cattle has increased concerns about the disease. In May, a second dairy farm worker was diagnosed with bird flu, and the virus was detected in both beef and milk. This has been confirmed on dairy farms in nine states.

Health and agriculture officials said the risk to the public remains low. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the meat of one sick dairy cow should not enter the nation’s food supply, while beef remains safe to eat.

Employees exposed to contact with infected animals are at greater risk. The only three human cases confirmed in the United States involved two dairy workers and one man working to slaughter infected birds at a poultry farm.