H5N2 strikes Missouri turkey farm

Editor's note: This story was revised on Mar 10, 2015, to clarify information about the control and surveillance zones around the Minnesota farm affected by H5N2.

H5N2 avian influenza—which surfaced in the US Pacific Northwest in December and in Minnesota last week—has now struck at least one turkey farm in Missouri, according to reports yesterday.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) reported that avian flu hit a turkey farm in Asbury, a town near the southwestern corner of the state, and that preliminary tests indicated avian flu at a facility at Fortuna, in central Missouri's Moniteau County.

A state official told the Associated Press (AP) that the virus on the Asbury farm was the same highly pathogenic H5N2 strain that has been confirmed in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Minnesota, said an AP story yesterday.

USDA sending team to assist

The MDA said in a statement that it was following "strict protocols to contain and eliminate the disease" and coordinating its response with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and state health officials. The USDA was sending an incident management team to Missouri.

The MDA did not disclose how many turkeys were sickened or how many are kept at the affected farm.

"The facilities were immediately quarantined and the remaining turkeys in the involved flocks will be depopulated and will not enter the food system," the agency said. "Following USDA protocols, surveillance and testing procedures are underway at properties near the affected facilities to ensure the virus has not spread."

Samples from Asbury were tested by a state veterinary lab and a USDA lab, the MDA said. It was awaiting confirmation of the preliminary positive result from Fortuna. Also, the state health department was monitoring workers exposed to the infected turkeys.

Update on Minnesota outbreak

Last week an H5N2 outbreak devastated a flock of 15,000 turkeys in west-central Minnesota's Pope County. On Mar 7 the Minnesota Board of Animal Health (MBAH) said the turkeys in the affected barn and in three others a half-mile away on the same farm had been euthanized and that the carcasses would be composted inside the barns. The turkeys in the other three barns tested negative for the virus, the board said.

Authorities set up a 10-kilometer-radius control zone around the affected farm. No other commercial poultry farms were situated in the area, but as of Mar 7 authorities had found 17 backyard flocks, which were tested and put under a 30-day quarantine, the MBAH said.

In an update yesterday, the MBAH said a surveillance zone within 20 kilometers of the affected farm contained about 70 additional potential sites with poultry. It said officials were continuing to check for poultry at those locations and asking owners to closely monitor their birds.

The Minnesota outbreak is the first highly pathogenic H5N2 incursion in the Mississippi Flyway, USDA officials have said. The virus, which is spread by wild birds, has been found in several wild birds and backyard poultry flocks in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho in recent months.

H5N2 is considered to pose little risk to humans, since no human infections have ever been reported.

The Minnesota outbreak prompted 40 countries, including the European Union, to slap bans on Minnesota poultry imports, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported on the evening of Mar 6. The story said China has banned all US poultry.

See also:

Mar 8 MDA statement

Mar 8 AP story

MBAH updates on Minnesota outbreak

Mar 6 Star Tribune story

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