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Bird flu detected in two Minnesota flocks

MINNEAPOLIS — Animal health officials confirmed Saturday afternoon that a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza has been detected in two Minnesota flocks, making it the 14th state since the start of 2022 to detect outbreaks.

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The virus, also known as the bird flu, does not pose an immediate threat to the public, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since the start of 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has confirmed avian flu flock outbreaks in the Carolinas, Delaware, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Virginia and Wisconsin.

>> Related: Bird flu: More than 5M chickens in Iowa to be killed

According to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, the highly contagious H5N1 strain was confirmed Friday in poultry flocks in Mower and Meeker counties by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Iowa, KARE reported,

“Poultry producers and backyard flock owners need to be on alert and contact their veterinarian immediately if they see any changes in their flocks,” Dr. Dale Lauer, the board’s poultry program director, said in a prepared statement.

“Everyone in poultry facilities needs to follow the site’s biosecurity protocols every time to prevent the spread of disease,” Lauer added.

Friday’s H5N1 diagnoses mark the first time since 2015 that bird flu has been reported in Minnesota, WCCO reported.

According to the TV station, a commercial turkey flock in Meeker County reported signs of mortality and depression, while a backyard mixed flock of chickens, ducks and geese in Mower County reported increased mortality.

“Our best hope is that this will simply fly right over us, especially if the Canadian weather cooperates and those migratory birds move on up and over us and don’t stop and rest,” University of Minnesota Extension Educator Abby Schuft told KARE in a prior interview.

>> Related: Bird flu outbreak on Indiana poultry farm results in nearly 30K turkeys being euthanized

A 2015 U.S. bird flu outbreak led to more than 50 million chickens and turkeys being killed, mostly in Minnesota and Iowa, the TV station reported.

Although human cases of the avian virus are rare, the CDC confirmed that the overlap does occur on rare occasions when enough of the virus gets into an individual’s eyes, nose or mouth. Humans cannot, however, contract the disease from poultry or eggs that are properly handled and cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, the USDA said.

According to the CDC, birds contract the flu when they come into contact with the “saliva, nasal secretions or feces” of an infected bird. The flu is considered to be “very contagious among birds” and has the potential to kill certain domesticated species like chickens and turkeys, CBS News reported.

Although human cases of avian virus are rare, the CDC confirmed that the overlap does occur on rare occasions when enough of the virus gets into an individual’s eyes, nose or mouth. Humans cannot, however, contract the disease from poultry or eggs that are properly handled and cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, the USDA said.

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