Avian flu escalates, snares 1 million Minnesota birds

Avian flu has turned up on turkey farms in Minn.
Turkeys are pictured at a farm near Sauk Centre, Minn., in 2005.
Janet Hostetter | AP 2005

Minnesota animal health officials say the latest outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza is now affecting flocks totaling more than a million birds across the state.

The latest cases reported Wednesday include two commercial poultry flocks in Morrison County and one each in Big Stone, Meeker, Stearns and Waseca counties.

In total, avian flu has now been found in 21 poultry flocks across 11 Minnesota counties — four commercial flocks in Kandiyohi and Morrison counties; three in Stearns County; two in Meeker County; and one each in Becker, Big Stone, Dodge, Lac qui Parle, Le Sueur and Waseca counties — as well as backyard flocks in Mower and Stearns counties.

Those 21 flocks add up to 1,017,568 birds, the state Board of Animal Health reported.

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Most of the affected operations are commercial turkey flocks. Affected flocks are euthanized to keep the virus from spreading.

The first of the state's cases in this latest outbreak was confirmed on March 25.

Minnesota's turkey industry includes nearly 700 farms that raise about 40 million birds a year, the most of any state. An outbreak of avian flu in Minnesota in 2015 resulted in the deaths of 9 million birds.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said the latest strain of avian influenza is a low risk to the public.