Midwest turkey flocks bear brunt of growing avian flu outbreaks

Turkey flock
Turkey flock

Myles Tan / Flickr cc

Federal and state animal health officials reported more than 30 new highly pathogenic avian flu outbreaks, mostly in Midwestern states and including several at commercial farms in Minnesota, the nation's top turkey producer.

The events are part of ongoing activity involving the Eurasian H5N1 strain, which has been circulating internationally and has hit poultry in 25 states and led to the loss of about 23.7 million birds.

Outbreaks expand in Midwestern states

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health (MBAH) reported 6 more outbreaks, mostly on turkey farms, raising the state's total to 21. Officials reported outbreaks in two more counties—Big Stone and Waseca—bringing the number of affected counties to nine.

As the nation's top turkey state, Minnesota farmers produce 18% of the nation's turkey supply. The MBAH put the poultry losses so far at about 1.02 million birds.

In Minnesota's neighbor to the south, the state that produces the most eggs, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship reported another outbreak, this time at a commercial turkey farm in Hardin County, about 80 miles northwest of Des Moines. So far, Iowa has reported 16 outbreaks, mainly involving layer and turkey farms.

Meanwhile, other Midwestern states reported more outbreaks, including Missouri, which has two more, lifting its total to nine, according to the Missouri Department of Agriculture. The latest events occurred at two turkey farms, one in Lawrence County, just west of Springfield in the southwestern part of the state, and one in neighboring Dade County.

In Nebraska, the virus turned up in a backyard flock of 33 birds in Scott's Bluff County in the west, marking the state's fifth outbreak.

North Dakota reported two more outbreaks, one at a turkey farm in LaMoure County in the southwest and the other in a backyard flock in Cass County, which surrounds Fargo. The state has now reported six outbreaks, according to the latest update from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

South Dakota confirmed 5 more outbreaks, bringing its total to 31. All involved turkey farms, with the events spanning five counties: Beadle, Clark, Faulk, McPherson, and Spink.

States in East and West add to totals

Three Eastern Seaboard states reported more outbreaks in poultry, including Maine and New York, which each reported another outbreak in backyard flocks. Maine's outbreak was in Waldo County, on the Atlantic coast. And New York's outbreak struck birds in Orleans County, just west of Rochester.

In North Carolina, the virus struck a turkey farm in Wayne County in the east central part of the state, marking the state's fifth outbreak.

In the western states, Wyoming reported its fourth outbreak. All have involved backyard flocks. The latest event occurred in Sheridan County which includes Sheridan, an area that borders Montana.

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