Serious strain of bird flu found in Minnesota turkey flock, 15,000 birds killed
Photo: MGN Online
ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 47) -- Federal officials say a serious strain of bird flu has been found in a Minnesota commercial turkey flock.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service says the strain was found in Pope County, near Alexandria. It's the first appearance of the highly pathogenic H252 strain of the avian flu in the Mississippi flyway.
Officials say the virus has infected and killed nearly 15,000 birds. There are less than 100 left.
Officials say this is the same virus detected on the west coast. The same successful tactics to prevent the spread of the H5N2 virus at farms in that area are now being used in Pope County. The farm in Pope County has been quarantined for a 10 mile radius. No other poultry farms are in the area, however there are several outdoor flocks which crews are testing now.
The risk to humans is very low and there are no food safety concerns right now. The virus can only infect people in direct contact with infected birds. There were four people on the Pope County farm who handled the birds. Officials do say no human infections have been detected.
The virus is spread through contact with water fowl fecal matter. Officials say it could have gotten on one of the human handlers and brought into the farm, or spread through other types of birds they may have been inside the barns.
The obvious question is how this will affect the turkey market here in Minnesota, which is the number one producer in the United States. The turkey industry in the state claims to produce some 46 million turkeys each year. It produced $92 million in exports in 2013 and accounted for more than 8% of total turkey industry value.
Officials with the Department of Agriculture anticipate an impact felt in the state, but can't say to what degree.
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