Jefferson Co. residents raise concerns about bird flu; cases found in two more Wisconsin counties

PALMYRA, Wis. — Residents who live near a large poultry farm where a case of highly pathogenic avian influenza was detected last month met with U.S. Senate candidate Tom Nelson on Friday, the same day agriculture officials announced cases of bird flu in two more Wisconsin counties.

In mid-March, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection announced a case of bird flu at the Cold Spring Egg Farm near Palmyra in Jefferson County. The case was the first reported in Wisconsin since 2015.

More than 2.7 million birds were killed and composted to keep the virus from spreading, but nearby residents have expressed concerns about the process.

“I’ve heard from the residents that it shouldn’t have been allowed to happen in the first place, they should not have been allowed to do that many birds in an area where they could not dispose of them, but that ship sailed a long time ago,” town of Palmyra Sup. Weenonah Brattset said.

DATCP has maintained composting the birds was the correct way to go and that residents shouldn’t be worried about contamination. Earlier this month, Natasha Gwidt, a field operations director from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, explained the bird carcasses would be mixed with sawdust and other material and then encased in more than a foot of woody vegetation, creating a barrier between the remains and any water.

RELATED: DATCP: Bird flu cases at Jefferson Co. poultry facility, backyard flock in Rock Co. likely came from wild birds

Since the announcement in mid-March, officials have identified bird flu cases at commercial facilities in Barron and Polk counties and non-commercial flocks in Rock, Racine, Columbia, Polk, Sheboygan and Barron counties.

On Friday, DATCP added cases have been found in backyard flocks in Fond du Lac and Oconto counties. Both have been depopulated.

Officials stress HPAI does not pose an imminent threat to humans. The virus can be killed by cooking poultry to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.