Jennie-O turkey flocks infected by HPAI

by Erica Shaffer
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WILMAR, Minn. – Four turkey farms growing birds for Jennie-O Turkey Store have been affected by highly pathogenic H5N2, the company recently confirmed.

Six counties in Minnesota have confirmed cases of the deadly bird flu virus. The most recent case confirmed on April 8 in Meeker County, Minn. resulted in a cull of 310,000 turkeys at a Jennie-O Turkey Store facility. The remaining three affected facilities belonged to contract or independent growers, according to the company. Those farms are located in Kandiyohi County, Stearns County and Lac qui Parle County. To date, USDA has reported nine confirmed cases of H5N2 in Minnesota, the leading turkey-producing state in the United States.

“At this point, the only Jennie-O Turkey Store flocks impacted are those identified above,” the company said in a statement. “The turkeys in our supply chain that have been affected by HPAI make up a small percentage of our company’s production. We are working diligently and taking the proper steps necessary to mitigate any impacts on production.

“We continue to export product to our largest trading partner, Mexico, which established protocols last week that allow trade with limited restrictions,” the company added.

The outbreak of H5N2 continues to escalate as migratory birds travel along the Pacific, Central and Mississippi flyways. A commercial turkey flock in Kingsbury County, SD became the latest group of birds to fall victim to highly pathogenic avian influenza, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture confirmed on April 9.

The flock of 34,000 turkeys is located within the Central Flyway, where H5N2 has previously been identified. Officials with the South Dakota Board of Animal Health quarantined the premises and birds on the property will be culled to prevent the spread of the disease. Additionally, the South Dakota Department of Health is working with poultry workers at the affected farm to ensure that they are taking proper biosecurity precautions, APHIS said.

A previous case of H5N2 was found at Riverside Farms near Huron, according to local news reports.
Officials with the North Dakota State Board of Animal Health said samples from a commercial turkey farm in Dickey County, ND, are presumed positive for an H5 strain of avian influenza. If the virus is confirmed, the birds will be culled.
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