Gov. Branstad extends bird flu disaster proclamation through July 1, 2015

Written by Theresa Rose on May 29, 2015

(DES MOINES) – Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad today announced that he is extending the State of Disaster Emergency in response to the avian flu outbreak until July 1, 2015. The governor’s original disaster declaration was set to expire Sunday, May 31, 2015. The proclamation can be read here.

As of Thursday, May 28, 2015, Iowa had 68 cases of the disease in the state. The disease is affecting birds in 18 counties. The counties affected at this time are: Buena Vista, Sac, Osceola, Sioux, O’Brien, Kossuth, Clay, Pocahontas, Cherokee, Madison, Wright, Palo Alto, Lyon, Plymouth, Calhoun, Adair, Webster and Hamilton.

The proclamation of disaster emergency can be read below and does the following:

1. Activates the disaster response and recovery aspect of the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department’s (HSEMD) Iowa Emergency Response Plan.

2. Authorizes the use and deployment of all available state resources, supplies, equipment, and materials as are deemed reasonably necessary by the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and Iowa HSEMD in order to do the following:

A. Track and monitor instances of confirmed highly pathogenic avian influenza throughout the state of Iowa and the country,

B. Establish importation restrictions and prohibitions in respect to animals suspected of suffering from this disease,

C. Rapidly detect any presumptive or confirmed cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza within Iowa’s borders,

D. Contain the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza within our state through depopulation, disinfections, and disposal of livestock carcasses,

E. Engage in detection activities, contact tracking, and other investigatory work to stop the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza within our state, and

F. Eliminate 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.

3. Temporarily authorizes the Iowa HSEMD, the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT), the Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS), the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), other state agencies, and local law enforcement agencies and private contractors employed by the same 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.

4. Authorizes the Iowa HSEMD, the Iowa DOT, the Iowa DPS, the Iowa DNR, IDPH, other state agencies, and local law enforcement agencies 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.

5. Authorizes state agencies to assist the IDALS in disinfection, depopulation, and livestock carcass disposal efforts.

6. Temporarily waives restrictions to allow for the timely and efficient disposal of poultry carcasses.

7. Temporarily suspends 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.


Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS)

Quarantining all infected sites
Subject to facilities implementing nationally approved biosecurity measures, the Dept. permits the movement of materials such as feed and other supplies on and off of infected sites
Leading efforts to monitor poultry within a 10-kilometer circle of each infected site
Coordinating state communication efforts on the disease
Working with federal and state officials to ensure the humane depopulation and disposal of all birds from infected sites
Encouraging residents in counties with affected sites that have poultry to contact the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship at or 515-725-1122

Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department (HSEMD)

Coordinating partial activation of the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) with several state agencies, including the Iowa Departments of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Public Health, Natural Resources, Transportation, Public Safety, and the Iowa National Guard. USDA, Iowa Turkey Federation, and Iowa Poultry Association are also present at the SEOC.
Providing resource support coordination as requested.
Regularly providing information for situational awareness with county emergency management coordinators.
Providing support for IDALS communications activities.

Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) – in conjunction with local public health officials

Sharing CDC recommendations on the use of personal protective equipment by persons working directly with sick chickens and carcasses.
Following up with workers who had direct contact with sick birds without the use of personal protective equipment.
Providing sound risk information, making sure the public understands that the virus presents no food safety concern or risk to the general public.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

DNR Air Quality has issued two variances for portable incinerators. The DNR has also issued a variance for a thermal treatment unit.
The DNR’s primary concern is that disposal methods protect surface water, groundwater and air quality and does not result in further spreading of the AI virus
Investigating the feasibility and the potential benefits and problems associated with various disposal options including landfilling, composting, incinerating, and burying.
Looking at potential criteria for emergency air permits if needed for the incineration process.
Working with contacts at several landfills to determine the ability of those operations to take dead poultry as well as being able to wash and disinfect transport vehicles on site.
Investigating and maintaining contact with wastewater treatment facilities on the ability to accept and adequately treat leachate produced by any landfill for the AI virus that may take dead poultry.
Developed solid waste acceptance criteria for landfills willing to accept AI infected poultry.
Contacted numerous potential sources of wood chips that can be used for composting. The wood chips would be used as part of the composting process. The DNR has issued several variances to facilities to expand wood chipping capacity.
Preparing maps of infected facilities that show quarantine boundaries and to determine the proximity of other poultry operations and neighbors.
Investigating the geology involved with operations to determine the optimum potential locations for burial if needed.
Working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct sampling of waterfowl for AI.

Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS)

Communicated to the Disaster Behavioral Health Response Team (DBHRT) that volunteers were needed to assist with damage assessment surveying in the northwest region. Three DBHRT members did volunteer to assist.
The Division of Mental Health and Disability Services (MHDS) is responding to requests from Buena Vista and Kossuth counties for mental health support; a plan is being structured in collaboration with businesses in Buena Vista and Kossuth counties.
MHDS is in communication with Iowa Concern staff who are taking calls from people with concerns relating to the Avian flu. If calls are received from people who need additional support, contact will be made to MHDS and a plan will be put in place utilizing either local resources or DBHRT support.

Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT)

Water hauling to assist with USDA operations continues.
Districts have applied dust control to gravel shoulders along Highway 3 in Wright County.
Provided a routing contact number and establish approved routes for IDALS permitted loads of carcasses up to 90,000 lbs.
Assisting the Poultry Association by providing routing to help carriers hauling healthy poultry products to and through the state so they can avoid the infected areas.
Created static signs for counties to install notifying haulers of poultry and poultry products of emergency restrictions placed on movements of such materials on select roads. Signs currently have been installed in Dallas, Emmet, and Palo Alto Counties.

Iowa National Guard

Supporting mission for IDALS incident command post.

Background Information

The United States has the strongest Avian Influenza (AI) surveillance program in the world. As part of the existing USDA avian influenza response plans, Federal and State partners as well as industry are responding quickly and decisively to these outbreaks by following these five basic steps: 1) Quarantine – restricting movement of poultry and poultry-moving equipment into and out of the control area; 2) Eradicate – humanely euthanizing the affected flock(s); 3) Monitor region – testing wild and domestic birds in a broad area around the quarantine area; 4) Disinfect – kills the virus in the affected flock locations; and 5) Test – confirm that poultry farms in the area are free of the virus.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship in partnership with the Iowa Department of Public Health are working directly with poultry workers at the affected facility to ensure proper precautions are being taken.

These virus strains can travel in wild birds without those birds appearing sick. People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.

All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard flock owners, should continue to practice good biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to state/federal officials, either through their state veterinarian at 515-281-5321 or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.