Animal health board urges farmers to monitor flocks

By Robert Williams

Editor

Bird flu has reportedly returned to the Midwest after a spring outbreak calmed over the summer months.

The highly pathogenic disease has been detected in two commercial turkey flocks in western Minnesota and a hobby flock in Indiana.

According to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, the disease was detected at a farm in Meeker County. The farm reported an increase in mortality last week and euthanized the flock to stop the spread. 

“While the timing of this detection is a bit sooner than we anticipated, we have been preparing for a resurgence of the avian influenza we dealt with this spring,” said Senior Veterinarian Dr. Shauna Voss. “HPAI is here and biosecurity is the first line of defense to protect your birds.”

A second report was later received that another flock in the county tested positive.

Both reports were the first avian influenza cases in Minnesota since late May, when a small flock’s infection was reported in Becker County.

Over 400 flocks in 39 states have reported cases since February; 81 reports of the disease occurred in Minnesota, the highest turkey production state in the country.

Biosecurity is paramount to stopping the spread of this and other viruses and disease. Flock owners large and small, from commercial operations to backyard flocks, should review their biosecurity measures to maintain the health of their birds. The Board established a 10-kilometer control area around the HPAI infected flock and animal health officials are identifying all premises with commercial or backyard poultry in this area. Commercial flocks will be quarantined and go through routine disease surveillance to make sure the virus isn’t spreading.

If you have a flock exhibiting any clinical signs of influenza, such as a drop in water consumption or increased mortality, or you believe they might have been exposed to birds with the disease, immediately call your veterinarian. If you are a veterinarian and receive reports of clinical signs of avian influenza, call the Minnesota Avian Influenza Hotline at 1-833-454-0156. If it is after hours or on the weekend, call the Minnesota Duty Officer at 1-800-422-0798.