Officials plan for new avian-flu outbreak

BY DI STAFF | JULY 23, 2015 5:00 AM

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Though there hasn’t been a new case of bird flu identified in more than a month, industry leaders are planning for a worst-case scenario outbreak this fall.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and U.S Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will speak at a conference next week in Des Moines designed to address solutions to a possible outbreak.

Both Branstad’s and Vilsack’s speeches will be open to the press, but not the public, and the rest of the two-day conference will only be open to the five industry representative groups which are funding the meeting, said Barbara Jenkins, the vice president of education programs at the U.S Poultry and Egg Association.

These five groups include the Egg Association, the National Chicken Council, the National Turkey Federation, the United Egg Producers, and the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council.

Jenkins said because officials can’t predict for sure what an outbreak will look like, they’re focusing on methods and strategies to reduce a worst-case scenario.

“It’s not what happens if there’s an outbreak this fall but how to plan for the fall,” she said.

In addition, she said, the conference would examine what happened this past spring and how to prevent a similar event in the future.

As the No. 1 egg producer in the country, Iowa was the hardest hit by the bird-flu outbreak. Nearly two-thirds of all reported cases were in the state, which resulted in 31.5 million Iowa birds being killed.

— by Ben Marks

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