Minnesota, Iowa report more AI outbreaks

by MEAT+POULTRY Staff
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WASHINGTON – Agriculture officials in Minnesota and Iowa reported more probable outbreaks of H5 avian influenza.

Iowa agriculture officials reported initial tests showing positive for an H5 strain of avian influenza came from a farm in Clay County with an estimated 1.1 million pullets, and a poultry farm in Hamilton County with a flock of turkeys estimated at 18,000 birds.

In Minnesota, officials with the State Emergency Operations Center reported two presumptive positive flocks in Renville County — a flock of 415,000 young chickens and a flock of turkeys (size unknown). Officials have reported 106 affected farms across 23 counties. Kandiyohi County is hardest hit with 39 farms affected by avian influenza. An estimated 8.9 million birds have been affected by the virus in Minnesota.

In light of the ongoing outbreak, some states have banned poultry shows at state fairs. Ohio and Michigan became the latest states to announce bans on all bird shows in an effort to prevent spread of the disease.

The Michigan Department of Agricultural and Rural Development canceled all 2015 poultry and waterfowl exhibitions in the state. The ban includes exhibitions, swap meets, petting zoos at fairs, game bird and waterfowl displays and Miracle of Life exhibits.

“We know the tremendous amount of time, money and passion the kids and other exhibitors invest into their birds and the importance of having livestock animals at these events to interact with the public,” said Dr. James Averill, state veterinarian. “The rapid spread of these avian flu viruses is historic and has impacted more than a dozen states across the US. While there are currently no known cases of HPAI in Michigan, commitment to protecting the health of all of the state’s poultry flocks - backyard and commercial farmers — led us to making this difficult decision.”

David T. Daniels, director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, said the decision to ban poultry shows was difficult because of the impact on young people who cannot show their birds at fairs.

“The right move isn’t always the easy move, but this is the right move, especially when you see just how devastating the virus has been to other big poultry states like Iowa and Minnesota,” Daniels said. “Ohioans need to do all we can to ensure that we protect our industry and that we help avoid a costly spike in the price of important foods like chicken, turkey and eggs.”

Ohio is the second largest egg producer in the United States. The state’s flock includes 28 million laying chickens, 12 million broilers, 8.5 million pullets and 2 million turkeys, according to state data. Ohio’s egg, chicken and turkey farms employ more than 14,600 jobs and contribute $2.3 billion to Ohio's economy.

“Until we can be sure that there has been no transference from the wild bird population migrating through the state, we need to do all we can to minimize the exposure for our domestic birds,” State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Forshey said.

Agriculture departments in Ohio and Michigan are working with fair boards and agriculture organizations to identify options for young people who already are raising poultry for their fair projects.
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