More avian flu in poultry in 6 states; Ontario farms also hit

Avian flu outbreaks expanded in six already-affected states, especially in the Midwest, according to the latest announcements from federal and state health officials.

Also, Canada reported two outbreaks on Ontario farms, the first since the virus struck flocks in eastern provinces earlier this year.

Commercial farms, backyard birds affected

The highly pathogenic Eurasian H5N1 strain continues to affect both commercial operations and small backyard holdings. In the latest developments, Minnesota and South Dakota both reported new outbreaks in commercial poultry.

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health (MBAH) reported two more outbreaks involving turkey producers, raising the state's overall outbreak total to six. One of the new outbreaks struck a farm in Kandiyohi County, about 67 miles west of the Twin Cities, housing 40,000 turkeys, and the other involved a farm in Lac Qui Parle County in Minnesota that has 23,000 turkeys.

South Dakota confirmed 5 more outbreaks, bringing its total to 17, according to an update from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Four occurred at commercial turkey farms in three counties: Clark, Hutchinson, and McPherson, all in the eastern half of the state. Taken together, the farms have 171,200 birds.

The virus also struck a backyard flock in Bon Homme County in the southeastern part of the state, which houses 150 birds.

Meanwhile, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, and New York reported more outbreaks in backyard flocks. Kansas reported a fourth outbreak in backyard birds, this time in Mitchell County in the north central part of the state. Maine reported its ninth outbreak in backyard birds, this time in newly affected Washington County in the easternmost region on the Atlantic shore.

Missouri reported its sixth outbreak, which struck a flock in Gentry County in the northwest region. And New York reported its fifth outbreak, the third in Suffolk County, which covers the eastern half of Long Island.

In related developments, APHIS reported 10 more detections from wild bird testing. They include the recently announced first case in Pennsylvania, involving a bald eagle, as well as more waterfowl positives from Iowa, New York, and South Dakota. So far, APHIS has reported 482 H5N1 detections, mostly involving waterfowl.

Virus strikes Ontario, Philippine farms

In announcements yesterday and today, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) reported two H5N1 outbreaks at farms in southern Ontario. The CFIA had previously reported four outbreaks in poultry flocks in Nova Scotia, starting in early February, as well as two flocks in Newfoundland and Labrador in events that occurred in late December and January.

Last week, Ontario's agriculture ministry reported that a red-tailed hawk that was suffering from neurologic symptoms tested positive for H5N1.

In other developments outside of the United States, the Philippines reported several highly pathogenic H5N1 outbreaks in poultry. In a Mar 25 notification from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), officials detailed four more outbreaks, which struck two duck farms and two backyard locations, all in Sultan Kudarat Province. The outbreaks began from Feb 10 to Mar 11, killing 69 of 3,205 susceptible birds.

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