Avian Flu Confirmed in a Minnesota Turkey Flock

*Update on Monday, March 9th: The USDA on March 9th confirmed a second case of H5N2 avian influenza in the Mississippi flyway on a turkey farm in Missouri. Another turkey facility in Missouri has also been quarantined after preliminary tests came back positive for the virus.

The first finding of the highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza virus in the Mississippi flyway has been confirmed by the USDA in a commercial turkey flock in western Minnesota.

It’s the same strain of avian influenza that has been found in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and Idaho (the Pacific flyway) since early December. The finding in the Mississippi flyway is significant because the bird migration route runs through some of largest poultry producing states in the U.S., including Minnesota — the number one turkey producing state.

Minnesota Public Radio is reporting the virus was detected inside three turkey barns within a 12-mile radius in Pope County, Minnesota. The USDA says samples from the turkey breeder flock were tested at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa confirmed the finding. The barns were quarantined and the remaining birds on the properties are being euthanized. The birds will not enter the food system.

While the risk of infection in humans is considered very low, four workers who had direct contact with the birds are being monitored for respiratory illnesses. MPR says the workers reported that the birds started dying around February 26th.

Manitoba Chicken Producers is reminding its producers to “monitor all on-farm traffic and to continue to be vigilant with their biosecurity practices.” It’s also recommended producers exercise additional caution if travelling through the area. Pope County is located approximately 460 kilometres south of Emerson, Manitoba, just south of the I-94 between Fargo and Minneapolis.

On Friday, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced restrictions on poultry imports from Minnesota, including live birds and eggs.

The USDA meanwhile, says it will be informing the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and international trading partners, and it will continue to communicate with trading partners to encourage adherence to OIE standards and minimize trade impacts. China has already implemented restrictions on U.S. poultry imports.

Related: Over 230K Birds Now Affected by B.C.’s Avian Influenza Outbreak


Kelvin Heppner

Kelvin Heppner is a field editor and radio host for RealAgriculture and RealAg Radio. He's been reporting on agriculture on the prairies and across Canada since 2008(ish). He farms with his family near Altona, Manitoba, and is on Twitter at @realag_kelvin. @realag_kelvin


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