As many as 5.3 million hens will be euthanized at a commercial laying facility in northwest Iowa as a result of the presence of H5N2. The United States Department of Agriculture confirmed the presence this highly pathogenic strain avian flu Monday.
This year there have already been more than 40 confirmed cases of the virus in commercial flocks across several Midwestern states. H5N2 supposedly is spread by migratory waterfowl, which are generally not harmed by the disease.
Once the virus is detected, standard procedure calls for isolating and then euthanizing the entire flock.
This is Iowa's second case of H5N2. Last week the virus was found in Buena Vista County on a turkey farm of 27,000 birds.
At over 5 million birds, the Osceola County hens comprise the largest flock to be hit by the virus. A turkey farm of 310,000 birds in central Minnesota is the second largest flock to have been infected.
USDA and Iowa Department of Agriculture officials say H5N2 presents a low risk to human health and no food safety concerns. But it can kill an entire flock of birds within days.