Deadly bird flu returns to the Midwest sooner than expected

MINNEAPOLIS– Bird flu returned to the Midwest earlier than expected after a months-long lull, with the highly pathogenic disease detected in two commercial turkey flocks in western Minnesota and a hobbyist flock in Indiana, Indiana said Wednesday. officials.

The disease was detected after a farm in Meeker County reported an increase in mortality last weekend, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health said. The herd was euthanized to stop the spread. The council later reported that a second flock in the county tested positive on Tuesday evening.

These were the first bird flu detections in Minnesota since May 31, when a backyard flock was struck in Becker County. The Indiana case was the first since a backyard flock tested positive on June 8, which had been the last detection in the Midwest before this week. However, there were several detections in western states in July and August, including California, Washington, Oregon and Utah, as well as a few in some eastern states.

“While the timing of this detection is a bit earlier than expected, we are preparing for a resurgence of the bird flu that we have faced this spring,” said Dr. Shauna Voss, the council’s senior veterinarian. “HPAI is here and biosecurity is the first line of defense to protect your birds.”

The Indiana State Board of Animal Health reported that a small hobby flock of chickens, ducks and geese in northern Indiana’s Elkhart County was tested on Tuesday. as presumptive positive, although final confirmation from a federal lab is pending.

Nationwide, according to the US Department of Agriculture, 414 flocks in 39 states have been affected since February, costing producers more than 40 million birds, mostly commercial turkeys and chickens. The disease has struck 81 Minnesota flocks this year, necessitating the killing of nearly 2.7 million birds.

Minnesota produces more turkeys per year than any other state.

This year’s outbreak has contributed to a spike in egg and meat prices and killed alarming numbers of bald eagles and other wild birds. It also affected some zoos. It seemed to fade in June, but officials then warned that another surge could occur this fall.

The disease is usually transmitted by migrating birds. It only occasionally affects humans, such as farm workers, and the USDA keeps poultry from infected flocks out of the food supply. A widespread outbreak in 2015 killed 50 million birds in 15 states and cost the federal government nearly $1 billion.

ABC News

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