For the first time, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) was confirmed in Minnesota, the top turkey-producing state in the nation, said agricultural officials over the weekend. Some 14.6 million birds in domestic flocks have died of HPAI or in culling of infected herds to reduce the spread of the viral disease this year.
The USDA said “high path” bird flu was identified at a turkey farm in Meeker County, about 50 miles west of Minneapolis, and in a backyard mixed-species flock in Mower County, about 100 miles south of Minneapolis. There were 300,000 turkeys on the farm in Meeker County and 17 chickens, ducks, and geese in the flock in Mower County, according to Minnesota Public Radio and The Associated Press.
Minnesota was the 18th state with an outbreak of HPAI. Four other outbreaks were reported over the weekend, three on turkey and egg farms in South Dakota and one at an upland game farm in New York State, according to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
Separately, the Agricultural Marketing Service told organic poultry farmers that they could keep their birds indoors as a precaution against HPAI, which can be spread by wild birds and their droppings.
“Temporary confinement can be done without compromising the organic status of the certified operation” when avian influenza is detected in the area, according to a USDA memo. “The method of temporary confinement must be approved by the certifying agent and should provide the necessary protection to the birds while meeting requirements of USDA organic regulations.” Ordinarily, organic livestock are outside at least part of the day.