On Friday, the 10th of April, a bird flu strain has apparently affected four more turkey farms in Minnesota and another one in North Dakota. This raises the number of farms that have been hit by the contagious H5N1 virus to 20, with 1.1 million birds registered. The outbreak started in March and continues to spread.
The new cases in Minnesota appeared in Lyon, Cottonwood, Watonwan and Stearns counties. In North Dakota, a number of 40.000 turkeys were struck by the avian flu in Dickey County, making this the first case of bird influenza confirmed in the state. Authorities in both Minnesota and North Dakota stated that the birds which have not been affected by the virus will be euthanized.
When all the birds of these farms hit by bird flu have been destroyed, more than one million turkeys will perish. This will probably result into massive losses for farmers and for their families. Minnesota, a state which has been heavily struck by the H5N1 strain, has already lost 1.9 percent of its yearly production.
The causes for this hit have not yet been fully determined. According to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, he farms have extremely well organized biosecurity practices and it is almost impossible for a virus to break through. However, there are experts who disagree that these measures are efficient enough. The most likely reason seems to be the infestation from wild waterfowl, i.e. migratory birds such as ducks, which might have spread the strain by means of their droppings. However, this was posed as debatable by wildlife health program supervisor Michelle Carstensen from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. She stated that tests carried out on the birds’ droppings did not show any trace of virus. More tests results are expected next week.
A representative of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health has an optimistic attitude, saying that the virus will probably die out once the weather gets warmer. This flu strain, like all viruses, prefers a humid, cold environment and hot weather will most likely annihilate it.
The authorities said that there is no danger to public health yet. No one has been reported ill from the virus and people are not to be afraid. At the same time, one needn’t worry because the food supply has not been affected at all. Once the birds hit by the virus are euthanized, the danger of infection will disappear.
Image Source: Statesymbosusa