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Branstad declares state of emergency over HPAI

Branstad Emergency DeclarationBy The Iowa Statesman

 

This afternoon, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad was joined by Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Mark Schouten to discuss the state’s response to HPAI H5N2 outbreak in Iowa. As part of the discussion, Branstad also announced he had proclaimed a “state of disaster emergency.”

 

“While the avian influenza outbreak does not pose a risk to humans, we are taking the matter very seriously and believe declaring a state of emergency is the best way to make all resources available,” Branstad said. “Even before the virus began in Iowa, our office was monitoring the outbreak in other states. We’ll continue our work – as we’ve been doing since the first outbreak in Buena Vista County – in hopes of stopping the virus’ aggressive spread throughout Iowa.”

 

ChickenThere are now 21 poultry facilities in 10 counties with either confirmed or presumed positive cases of the avian influenza. The following counties are affected by the outbreak: Buena Vista, Cherokee, Clay, Kossuth, Madison, O’Brien, Osceola, Pocahontas, Sac and Sioux.

 

“Iowa’s poultry farms are an important part of our state’s agriculture industry,” Northey said.  “This disease is having a far reaching impact and, unfortunately, it has continued to spread.  We have seen tremendous support and coordination from state, federal and local partners and this emergency declaration will allow the state to continue to respond aggressively to this disease outbreak.”

 

Branstad’s emergency declaration went into effect immediately at noon today and will remain in effect for 30 days, unless he extends or terminates the order. As a result of his declaration:

• the disaster response and recovery aspect of the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department’s Iowa Emergency Response Plan has been activated;
• the use and deployment of all available state resources, supplies, equipment, and materials deemed reasonably necessary by the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and Iowa HSEMD is authorized for the purposes of tracking and monitoring instances of confirmed HPAI throughout the state of Iowa and the country, establishing importation restrictions and prohibitions in respect to animals suspected of suffering from this disease, rapidly detecting any presumptive or confirmed cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza within Iowa’s borders, containing the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza within our state through depopulation, disinfections, and disposal of livestock carcasses, engaging in detection activities, contact tracking, and other investigatory work to stop the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza within our state, and eliminating the disease in those disaster counties where it has been found and lessen the risk of this disease spreading to our state as a whole;
• the Iowa HSEMD, the Iowa Department of Transportation, the Iowa Department of Public Safety, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Department of Public Health, other state agencies, and local law enforcement agencies and private contractors employed by the same are temporarily authorized to remove and/or dispose of live animals and animal carcasses on publicly or privately owned land when those live animals and/or carcasses threaten public health or safety;
• the Iowa HSEMD, the Iowa DOT, the Iowa DPS, the Iowa DNR, IDPH, other state agencies, and local law enforcement agencies are temporarily authorized to implement stop movement and stop loading restrictions and other control zone measures as are reasonably deemed necessary, including establishing buffer zones, checkpoints, and cleaning and disinfecting operations at checkpoints and borders surrounding any quarantine areas established by the IDALS or at any other location in the state of Iowa, in order to stop the spread of this contagious disease;
• state agencies are authorized to assist the IDALS in disinfection, depopulation, and livestock carcass disposal efforts; • restrictions to allow for the timely and efficient disposal of poultry carcasses are temporarily waived; and
• the regulatory provisions pertaining to hours of service for commercial vehicle drivers hauling poultry carcasses infected with or exposed to highly pathogenic avian influenza or while hauling loads otherwise related to the response to this disaster during its duration, subject to certain conditions outlined in the disaster proclamation, are temporarily waived.

Scroll down to see Branstad’s entire press conference. The story continues below that.

 

Much of the affected area falls in the Fourth Congressional District, represented by U.S. Rep. Steve King. He released the following statement after Branstad’s press conference:

“The avian bird flu has drastically affected the Fourth District of Iowa with the loss of 15 million birds. All but one of the reported incidences in Iowa are in my district – the number one egg producing district in America.

“I have personally been on site to see firsthand the damage done to our poultry producers and continue to be on daily conference calls with officials to figure out how we can best combat this outbreak. I encourage everyone to take this situation very seriously and use the necessary and recommend precautions. Although available federal resources appear to be adequate even for the massive scope of this disaster, I have been pushing hard every day for more and better methods for disposal and cleanup.

“If we are to save and rebuild a very important Iowa industry, there remains two very big questions. How is it spread and under what conditions? How can we prevent this from happening again?

“This disease has spread quickly, however there is no known event that H5N2 has ever mutated into a version that could affect humans. I am glad to see that Governor Branstad declared a state of emergency in Iowa today. We will do whatever it takes to help contain this disease and allow our producers to get back on their feet again.”