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Minnesota reports fifth confirmed avian influenza infection site

An update late Monday from the Minnesota Board of Animal Health showed a total of five avian flu infection sites in Minnesota, with new sites identified in Lac qui Parle and Kandiyohi counties.

WCT.Stock.Poultry.Turkey.02
A turkey flock is shown in a stock file photo. The total number of flocks infected with avian influenza in Minnesota is up to five, according to an update late Monday from the Board of Animal Health. There were no additional flocks announced in the noon Tuesday update.
Source / Adobe Stock

WILLMAR — Commercial turkey flocks in Lac qui Parle and Kandiyohi counties are the fourth and fifth confirmed avian influenza infection sites in the state, according to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health.

An update with the two additional flocks was posted late Monday to the board’s web page on the state response to the H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza . The newly launched web page at bah.state.mn.us/hpai is now updated at noon each weekday. There were no additional flocks listed after noon Tuesday.

The Lac qui Parle County flock is 23,000 birds, and the Kandiyohi County flock is 40,000 birds, bringing the total number of birds infected to 376,017 from the five sites.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed several findings of the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza in wild waterfowl in the Atlantic flyways in January 2022. On Feb. 8, APHIS confirmed H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza in a commercial turkey flock in Indiana, and the disease has since been confirmed in multiple states and flock types.

The first cases of H5N1 in Minnesota were confirmed March 25, according to the Board of Animal Health.

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A Meeker County commercial turkey farm with 289,000 birds, and 17 birds of mixed species in a Mower County backyard were announced Saturday. State officials quarantined the affected premises, and a USDA news release said the birds on the properties would be depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease. Birds from the flocks will not enter the food system.

A 24,000-bird commercial turkey operation in Stearns County was the third reported site in Minnesota, confirmed Saturday and announced Sunday.

According to the Board of Animal Health, during a highly pathogenic avian influenza event in Minnesota, a response zone is created around the infected premises in order to control movement and establish an area for testing and surveillance protocols to be carried out.

The U.S. has a strong surveillance program for avian influenza, and USDA and its partners are actively looking for the disease in poultry operations, live bird markets, and in migratory wild bird populations.

Poultry remains safe to eat, and proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165F is always advised. The Centers for Disease Control also recently announced this strain of avian influenza is a low risk to the public . No human cases of these avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States.

Minnesota's turkey industry generates $774 million in cash receipts annually, and the state exports about 15% of its production, worth approximately $114 million. The state has more than 660 turkey farms that raise about 40 million birds annually.

More on avian flu:
Egg prices reached record highs in December 2022 and have now surpassed $5 per dozen in supermarkets across the region.
Nearly 500,000 birds affected by early autumn surge in avian flu in Minnesota

Susan Lunneborg is the news editor of the West Central Tribune in Willmar, Minnesota. A journalist for more than 25 years, she has worked as a reporter and editor at newspapers in the Dakotas and Minnesota.
Lunneborg can be reached at: slunneborg@wctib.com or 320-214-4343.
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