WASHINGTON – An eighth commercial turkey flock of 30,000 birds in Minnesota has become infected with highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza, the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the US Department of Agriculture reported. Minnesota is the leading turkey-producing state in the US.

The latest farm to fall victim to the virus is in Kandiyohi County which lies within the Mississippi Flyway where the H5N2 bird flu strain previously has been identified. Additional counties affected by the virus include Stearns County, Nobles County, Pope County and Lac Qui Parle County. Stearns County is one of Minnesota's largest poultry-producing locations.

Minnesota agriculture officials will implement an oft-repeated protocol: quarantine the affected premises and cull all of the birds on the property to prevent the spread of the disease.

So far, only the H5N2 virus has been detected in the Pacific, Mississippi and Central Flyways. But since the avian influenza outbreak began, USDA has identified two mixed-origin viruses in the Pacific Flyway: HPAI H5N2 and new HPAI H5N1 virus. The new HPAI H5N1 virus is not the same virus as the HPAI H5N1 virus found in Asia, Europe and Africa that has sickened some individuals, the agency noted.