"I think it's not a matter of if it comes to Minnesota- it's when"

So says Minnesota Board of Animal Health senior veterinarian Shauna Voss.  It's only been seven years since around 9 million birds across 110 Minnesota farms were killed by avian influenza or were euthanized to prevent the spread.  The economic impact on producers was nothing short of catastrophic. Now in 2022, avian influenza has been detected in the United States.  Earlier this year it was first discovered in birds in the Carolinas

The Eurasian H5 avian influenza in hunter-harvested waterfowl was first detected by Clemson University scientists then confirmed by federal testing, and the federal Agriculture Department alerted global health officials, according to The Associated Press.

This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has reported an outbreak of a highly pathogenic bird flu strain in a turkey flock in Indiana. This instantly triggered a ban on Indiana poultry from countries like China and Taiwan. Certainly, many more trade restrictions will be put in place and unfortunately, it's also fairly certain many more cases will soon be discovered.  What makes the Indiana discoveries so critical is the state's location within the Mississippi Flyway.  Bird flu doesn't originate in commercial poultry flocks but is instead brought to flocks through migratory birds often through a shared water source. The risk of the pathogen to people is low but it spreads very quickly through commercial bird populations.

In 2015 North Dakota had two cases of avian flu affecting over 100,000 birds

The Bismarck Tribune reports that there are nine turkey farms in North Dakota producing around a million birds annually. But all poultry producers need to be on the lookout for sick birds or a drop in egg production.

“As migration takes place this spring, we encourage producers to focus on biosecurity,” North Dakota State Vet Dr. Ethan Andress said. “Anyone involved with poultry production from backyard birds to a commercial operation should review and understand how the virus could spread to their birds, and prevent the exposure before it happens."

While the numbers are still small, we're all well aware of how quickly a pandemic can spread. For information about biosecurity measures you can take with your birds along with updates on virus activity across the country simply click here.


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