Bird flu returns to Minnesota with 6 newly infected farms

Published 9:41 am Wednesday, May 27, 2015

ST. PAUL — Bird flu returned to Minnesota after more than a week without a new case, as presumptive positive test results came back Tuesday from six turkey farms.

The new detections announced by the Minnesota Board of Animal Health included the first case in Brown County, a farm with 46,800 turkeys. They also included three new outbreaks at turkey farms in Kandiyohi and two in Renville counties.

The new cases raise the state’s total to 94 farms affected in 22 counties, including 36 in Kandiyohi, the top turkey-producing county in the nation’s No. 1 turkey-producing state.

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Avian influenza has now cost Minnesota turkey and chicken producers over 8 million birds — but that total doesn’t include the losses from five of the newly infected farms that were still being counted.

Until Tuesday, Minnesota had gone 10 straight days with no reports of new cases.

While Minnesota has had the most farms affected, bird losses have been far higher in neighboring Iowa, the country’s top egg-producing state, with over 26 million birds affected at 66 sites — including two new probable cases Tuesday at farms with over 1 million chickens.

Nationally, the toll from confirmed and probable cases is nearly 42 million chickens, turkeys, ducks and other poultry.

The first case of H5N2 in the Midwest was confirmed in early March at a Minnesota turkey farm.

Agricultural economists last week stated the bird flu could cost nearly $1 billion in the economies of the two states hardest hit: Minnesota and Iowa. This includes losses to feed suppliers, trucking companies and processing plants.

The estimates are based on annual figures, and exact impact is not yet known.