The third Minnesota turkey farm this month has fallen prey to the virulent H5N2 avian influenza virus that recently surfaced in the United States, according to federal and state officials.
In addition, the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus H5N1 has cropped up in Romania for the first time since 2010, killing wild pelicans, Romanian officials said.
The H5N2 outbreak struck a farm housing 39,000 turkeys in central Minnesota's Stearns County, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Mar 28. The report came the day after officials announced that the virus had hit a turkey farm in Lac Qui Parle County in western Minnesota.
The first H5N2 outbreak in the state was reported Mar 5 in Pope County, which adjoins Stearns County on the west. That was followed shortly by two turkey-farm H5N2 outbreaks in Missouri and one in Arkansas. The virus also hit a backyard poultry flock in Kansas recently.
One of four barns hit
At the Stearns County farm, the virus struck one of four barns, killing many of the birds in it, Minnesota State Veterinarian Bill Hartmann, DVM, told the Associated Press (AP). Under standard procedures, the USDA said, the farm has been quarantined and all the surviving turkeys will be destroyed to prevent further spread of the virus.
Hartmann said there was no known link between Minnesota's latest outbreak and the previous two, according to the AP.
Samples from the turkeys were tested after increased deaths were noticed in the flock, the USDA reported. The USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, confirmed initial findings by the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
Stearns County is the second-leading turkey producer in Minnesota, which is the national leader in turkey production, the AP story said. It said more than 40 countries have barred poultry products from Minnesota since the first H5N2 outbreak surfaced.
There are several commercial poultry farms and backyard flocks within a quarantine zone established around the outbreak, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health (MBAH) said yesterday. Officials are contacting producers and bird owners to notify them of the quarantine and collect samples for testing.
Regarding the Lac Qui Parle County outbreak, the MBAH said 13 backyard poultry flocks were identified in the control zone around the affected farm, and they have been quarantined. Twelve of the flocks tested negative, and results were still awaited on one flock, the board said yesterday.
Steve Olson, executive director of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, said a federal program will compensate the affected turkey farmers for their lost birds and the cost of cleaning and disinfecting the farms, but they won't make money, the St. Cloud (Minn.) Times reported on Mar 28.
Dead pelicans in Romania
In Romania, 64 wild Dalmatian pelicans in a flock of about 250 were killed by the H5N1 virus, according to a report that Romanian officials filed with World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) today.
The birds were on an island in Sinoe Lake on the border of Constanta and Tulcea counties, which lie in southeastern Romania on the Black Sea, according to the report. The dead birds were first noticed on Mar 25.
The incident is the first report of H5N1 in Romania since April 2010, officials said. Romania is bordered on the south by Bulgaria, which reported the death of 21 pelicans from H5N1 last week. The deaths were in the northeastern province of Silistra, which adjoins Romania.
Elsewhere, a low-pathogenic H7 virus was found in a flock of 22,273 layer chickens in the Netherlands, Dutch officials told the OIE on Mar 27. The outbreak was in Friesland province. The virus didn't kill any of the birds, but the whole flock was destroyed as a precaution against spread, the report said.
Mar 28 USDA press release
Mar 28 AP story
MBAH information on H5N2 outbreaks
Related Mar 27 CIDRAP News item
Mar 28 St. Cloud Times story
Mar 30 OIE report on H5N1 in Romania
Mar 27 OIE report on H7 in the Netherlands