Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa flocks hit with avian flu

Minnesota officials today announced six new avian flu outbreaks on commercial turkey farms—ending a 10-day outbreak drought—and Iowa confirmed three new H5 outbreaks while Nebraska has had its third H5N2 event.

Minnesota streak ended

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) today reported that six turkey flocks are "presumptive positive" for avian flu after the state went 10 days without an outbreak. The outbreaks raise the number to 94 in the state since early last month, and a newly affected county raises the number of affected Minnesota counties to 22.

One outbreak is in Brown County in the Southwest part of the state, its first. It involves 46,800 turkeys, the only event for which the flock size is reported, the DPS said in a press release.

Two outbreaks hit farms in Renville County, its third and fourth avian flu detections. And the other three are in by far the hardest-hit county, Kandiyohi, which now has had 36 outbreaks. Renville adjoins Brown County to its north, and Kandiyohi sits just north of Renville County.

A spokesperson with the Minnesota Board of Animal Health (MBAH) told CIDRAP News that information on flock size should be coming soon, and that the MBAH doesn't have confirmation on any of these flocks from the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa.

She pointed out that H5N2 has caused all Minnesota outbreaks this year.

The DPS noted in its news release that birds on 87 of the state's affected farms have been euthanized, and that carcass disposal is complete on 23 of them. More than 8 million Minnesota poultry have been affected by avian flu, with flock numbers unknown for several outbreaks.

Two new Iowa counties affected

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) today reported probable H5 highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks in two newly affected counties, Adair and Webster.

The outbreak in Adair County, in the southwestern part of Iowa, struck a commercial laying operation housing an estimated 975,000 birds, which had shown increased mortality. Increased bird deaths also alerted authorities to the outbreak in Webster County, which affected a commercial egg farm with 160,000 birds located in the central part of the state.

On May 22 the IDALS reported an H5 outbreak in Pocahontas County in the north-central part of the state.

The highly pathogenic form of avian flu—likely H5N2—was confirmed on a farm housing 21,000 turkeys that experienced recent increases in bird deaths. Confirmatory tests in all three outbreaks are awaited from the NVLS in Ames. Testing would also determine the specific strain.

In related developments, the IDALS said today that a USDA response team transported 35 loads of biological materials over the weekend to a landfill in Cherokee County, where a large incinerator will begin processing materials this week. So far 19.1 million commercial layers and pullets have been euthanized in the state.

Iowa has confirmed 66 avian flu outbreaks in recent weeks. The USDA has reported 179 avian flu outbreaks this year, affecting more than 40 million birds, primarily chickens and turkeys, but its numbers don't include several recent outbreaks.

Nebraska's third outbreak

The outbreak in Nebraska—the state's third—involves a flock of 500,000 pullets, or young hens, in Dixon County in the northeastern part of the state, bordering Iowa. All three affected farms share the same owner and are close to each other, according to a news release from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA).

"These farms are in close proximity to each other, so this finding, while unfortunate, is not unexpected," said NDA Director Greg Ibach. All three sites are under quarantine, and the chickens are being culled, the NDA said. Following USDA protocol, NDA officials are conducting tests on all poultry holdings within a 6.2-mile radius of outbreak farms.

NDA reported the first two outbreaks, which involved egg-laying hens, on May 12 and May 14. The outbreaks involve 4 million chickens total.

News writer Lisa Schnirring contributed to this report.

See also:

May 26 Minnesota DPS news release

MBAH avian flu information page

May 26 IDALS press release

May 22 IDALS press release

May 22 NDA news release

Latest USDA avian flu numbers

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