Idaho not at risk for Midwest-style bird flu outbreak

Officials say Idaho is free of avian flu and is unlikely to face the outbreaks among commercial poultry flocks in the Midwest, where millions of infected birds were killed.

In January, the Idaho State Department of Agriculture set up a small quarantine area near Parma after two backyard poultry flocks tested positive for a highly contagious strain avian flu. The quarantine restricted the movement of eggs, poultry or poultry products in and out of a six-mile area in Canyon County.

The virus is often lethal in birds. It has never been found in humans.

The quarantine was lifted after about a month when no additional reports of avian flu surfaced, State Veterinarian Bill Barton said. Twenty-six contaminated chickens were killed in one backyard flock. Chickens died of the flu in another flock, but surviving birds tested negative for the virus and were spared.

“It’s really quieted down in Idaho, with no new reported cases,” Barton said.

Experts believe that wild, migrating birds spread the avian flu to commercial poultry flocks in the Midwest, where nearly 13 million infected chickens and turkeys have been slaughtered since early March. Experts haven’t identified how the virus entered commercial farms. Some speculate that the virus may have been transferred on employees’ shoes and clothes or by the wind.