Disease in Wright County
By LARRY KERSHNER
CLARION – The Wright County Board of Supervisors declared a state of emergency in Wright County April 30 in an effort to take a proactive, preventative approach to the widespread highly pathogenic avian influenza.
But the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship announced Tuesday morning that Wright County was listed among four additional suspected infections of HPAI.
“It was a setback for us,” said Stan Watne, public information officer for Wright County. “It’s feels like a death in the family.
“But we are going to keep fighting and try stop the spread because this is not over yet.”
He said the case was listed, as of Monday morning, as presumed positive. A confirmation of infection of an H5 virus was expected later in the day.
The identity infected site in Wright County has not been released, but Watne said he thinks it’ll affect 2.8 million birds.
The county is working with the Iowa Department of Transportation to spray along certain roads and construction sites to keep dust down.
He said there are a series of eight road closures to through traffic around poultry confinements.
But Watne said farmers can remove the barricades if they need to get through, but asks they replace them.
He also asked county and regional residents to stay away from poultry confinements just to see what’s going on.
“We’re asking them to help us out and stay away,” Watne said.
Watne said county officials were scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. to update the situation and was expected to issue a news release at that time.
The April 30 declaration was a preventative effort against infection, said Watne.
“There are 15 million (laying hens) in Wright County,” Watne said, “and it would be a huge economic disaster if these chickens were wiped out.”
Karl Helgevold, chairman of the board of supervisor said, that because of the widespread outbreak of HPAI in Northwest and North Iowa – 18 confirmed cases and seven probable cases in 11 counties, as of Monday – “we felt it necessary, as a board, to declare this state of emergency.”
According to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship the 18 confirmed cases are in the counties of Buena Vista (6), Osceola (2), O’Brien (2), Sioux (3), Sac, Pocahontas, Cherokee, Clay and Kossuth. The seven probable cases are in the counties of Buena Vista (2), Sac, Cherokee, Wright, Pocahontas and Madison.
The supervisors stress to citizens there were no reports of HPAI in Wright County on April 30.
“Taking this action allows the county to exercise some rights under the emergency management rules to help with a uniform proactive and preventative approach to the HPAI,” Watne said.
The supervisors sought cooperation between the county engineer and county sheriff offices to reroute traffic, especially farmers hauling live birds, away from poultry facilities in an effort to prevent the disease’s spread.
Watne said this may include working with DOT and the Iowa Poultry Association to recommend to poultry farmers and haulers to avoid driving through Wright County.
“To be honest, we don’t even know if that’s how (the disease) is being transmitted,” Watne said. “We’re using the best information we have available.”
Wright County leads the state in poultry population with nearly 15 million birds in more than 20 locations across the county, the declaration said.
The poultry industry in Wright County employs more than 600 people.
“The potential effect of an outbreak of HPAI in Wright County,” said the April 30 declaration, “is tremendous.
“School districts would see a decline in enrollment, local businesses and charitable organizations would see a loss of support and the residents would see a reduction in purchasing power of poultry-related products.
“For these potentially severe economic reasons, the Wright County Board of Supervisors declared a state of emergency, in an effort to proactively assist local industry in taking uniform preventative measures across the county.”
The supervisors will work cooperatively throughout the next several weeks with Wright County Emergency Management and other local, state and federal entities as they monitor the situation and take other actions as needed.
One of the biggest egg-laying entities in the county -38 confinement buildings – Daybreak Foods Inc. started disinfecting all vehicles last week into its complex on Buchanan Avenue, seven miles south of Eagle Grove.
Kim Hanus, of Eagle Grove, and Izeak Anderson, of Fort Dodge, were stopping all wheeled traffic, documenting all drivers entering the complex, disinfecting tires and vehicle under carriages.
The biosecurity effort is for 12 hours per day, they said. After 5 p.m., no traffic is allowed in.
Hanus and Anderson said early mornings and noon are busy times for them as employees arrive for work. But a steady stream of trucks also keep them moving.
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