Avian flu resurfaces in Missouri, hits more Iowa farms

The H5N2 avian flu virus has reappeared in Missouri after an absence of more than a month, and Iowa reported six more poultry outbreaks today, but hard-hit Minnesota was spared any new outbreaks for the first time since mid-April.

Backyard flock hit

In Missouri the virus struck a backyard poultry flock in Lewis County, near the state's northeastern corner, the Associated Press (AP) reported today, citing the Missouri Department of Agriculture. It said 12 birds were infected, and another 130 were destroyed to prevent any further spread.

Missouri had H5N2 outbreaks on two turkey farms and in two wild lesser snow geese in early March. The turkey farms are in Moniteau County in the central part of the state and Jasper County near the southwestern corner. The snow geese samples were collected in St. Charles County, near St. Louis.

In addition, the virus was confirmed in a captive falcon in St. Louis County in late March, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Six outbreaks in two Iowa counties

In Iowa, H5 avian flu viruses hit five more farms in the northwestern county of Sioux, while neighboring O'Brien County reported its third confirmed H5N2 outbreak, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) announced late today. The USDA is doing confirmatory testing on samples from the Sioux County farms.

The new H5 detections in Sioux County raise the county's total to nine. They involve:

  • A pullet farm with an estimated 100,000 birds
  • A commercial egg farm with 100,000 birds
  • Two commercial egg farms for which estimates of flock size are still pending
  • A pullet farm for which an estimate of flock size is still awaited

The H5N2 outbreak in O'Brien County is in a backyard duck flock of unspecified size, the agency said. The outbreak was detected as part of monitoring efforts surrounding a previously confirmed H5N2 outbreak.

If confirmed, the new detections will be added to Iowa's previous total of 28 outbreaks in 11 counties, the IDALS said. On the basis of previous reports, the latest events increase the overall H5N2 toll in Iowa to at least 20.3 million birds, most of them layer hens.

Minnesota gets a break

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced that no new outbreaks were reported in the state today, marking the first pause in daily detections since Apr 15. The state's first outbreak was announced on Mar 5. Officials have been saying that warming temperatures should slow the virus's advance.

The DPS said birds at 76 of Minnesota's 82 affected farms have been euthanized. Composting of the dead birds is in progress on 69 farms, and farmers and officials are working on carcass disposal on the rest.

Officials have sampled 715 backyard flocks within the control zones surrounding outbreak farms, the agency added. The virus has been found in just one backyard flock so far, according to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health.

Almost 5.6 million birds in 21 Minnesota counties have been affected by the outbreaks, state officials say.

In monitoring poultry workers who had possible exposure to H5N2, the Minnesota Department of Health has not found any infections so far, the DPS said. Ten days of monitoring has been completed for 172 people associated with 49 flocks, and another 75 are still being monitored.

No human infections with the H5N2 virus have been reported anywhere to date.

See also:

May 6 AP story

May 6 IDALS press release

May 6 Minnesota DPS press release

Mar 10 CIDRAP News story on second Missouri outbreak

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