WASHINGTON – The rising number of poultry flocks infected with highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza has the US Department of Agriculture streamlining its announcements of new cases. More than two million birds have succumbed to the virus at farms in the Midwest United States and the province of Ontario, Canada.

The Animal and Plant health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed more cases of H5N2 in additional turkey flocks in South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The number of cases is expected to rise as the spring migration of wild birds continues. News reports state that 17 of the newly-reported affected farms are contract growers for or owned by Jennie-O Turkey Store.

“Since the beginning of the HPAI H5 outbreaks, USDA has been committed to transparency in announcing these detections,” the agency said in a statement. “Delivering factual, timely information is a priority for USDA.

“Because more detections are expected during the Spring migration, USDA will streamline its announcements through daily GovDelivery messages as well as continue posting the new cases on the APHIS website. And In the event of HPAI H5 detections in a new state and/or new flyway or detections of new strains, USDA APHIS will issue only a stakeholder announcement and post the findings on its AI website.”

The agency's National Veterinary Services Laboratories has confirmed the most recent cases of H5N2 in the following states and counties:

• Roberts County, South Dakota (April 15)
• Central Flyway
• 66,600 turkeys

• Kandiyohi County, Minnesota (April 15)
• Mississippi Flyway
• 152,000 turkeys
• 5th detection in the county

• Stearns County, Minnesota (April 15)
• Mississippi Flyway
• 67,000 turkeys
• 6th detection in the county

• Otter Tail County, Minnesota (April 15)
• Mississippi Flyway
• 21,000 turkeys
• First detection in the county
• Roseau County, Minnesota (April 16)
• Mississippi Flyway
• 26,000 turkeys
• First detection in the county

• Barron County, Wisconsin (April 16)
• Mississippi Flyway
• 126,700 turkeys
• First detection in the county