CIDRAP — Minnesota declares H5N2 emergency as spread continues

Robert Roos | News Editor | CIDRAP News | Apr 23, 2015

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton today declared an emergency over the widespread H5N2 avian influenza invasion of poultry farms, as the state’s first outbreaks in chickens and backyard poultry were reported and Wisconsin and Iowa each announced a new turkey outbreak.

By declaring a state of emergency, Dayton activated an emergency operations plan to support the state’s response to the crisis, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. The state has logged 46 outbreaks in 16 counties, with more than 2.63 million birds either killed by the virus or destroyed to stop its spread, according to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health (MBAH).

Dayton’s action also calls for National Guard troops to be used as needed, but it wasn’t immediately clear whether any would be called up, the story said. On Apr 20, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker authorized the Wisconsin National Guard to help respond to H5N2, after the state veterinarian asked that a few Guard members be made available.

Large chicken farm hit
Minnesota’s first H5N2 outbreak on a commercial chicken farm was reported today at J & A Farms, an egg operation about 20 miles west of Detroit Lakes in the northwest, the Star Tribune reported. In addition, the MBAH reported an outbreak in a mixed backyard flock of 150 poultry in Pipestone County, near the state’s southwestern corner, the county’s first outbreak.

Amon Baer, owner of the chicken farm near Detroit Lakes, told the newspaper he must destroy about 300,000 chickens after tests he ordered confirmed the presence of the virus. The story said the MBAH was aware of the test result and was in the process of confirming it. If confirmed, the outbreak will push the state’s losses of turkeys and chickens close to 3 million.

Click HERE for the complete article.

CIDRAP — USDA hopes weather will help as H5N2 outbreaks mount

Robert Roos and Lisa Schnirring | Staff Writers | CIDRAP News | Apr 22, 2015

Warm weather and plenty of sunshine are the factors most likely to halt, at least for now, the series of H5N2 avian flu outbreaks plaguing poultry farms across the Midwest, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials said today, a few hours before an onslaught of 13 new outbreaks in Minnesota was reported.

“When warm weather comes in consistently across the country I think we’ll stop seeing new cases,” John Clifford, DVM, the USDA’s chief veterinary officer, said at a morning press conference about the virus that has spelled death for millions of turkeys and chickens in recent weeks.

“I can’t predict what will happen in the fall, but we need to prepare and that’s what we’re doing,” he added.

His comments came in the wake of four more turkey-farm outbreaks reported late yesterday, three in Minnesota and one in South Dakota. And late this afternoon the USDA and Minnesota officials reported that the virus has hit 13 more turkey farms in the state, while Wisconsin officials reported two H5 outbreaks on chicken and turkey farms in different counties, with test results on the specific subtype awaited.

Virus can’t take the heat
In response to a question about whether cool weather is prolonging the H5N2 siege, Clifford said, “We know that this virus doesn’t like heat, so when it gets up to a certain level of temperature the virus doesn’t survive easily.”

Click HERE for the complete article.

Reuters — Niger confirms H5N1 bird flu outbreak: OIE

Health | Wed Apr 22, 2015 10:04am EDT Related: HEALTH
(Reuters) – Niger has confirmed an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu earlier this month in the southern town of Maradi, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) said on Wednesday.

The authorities in Niger had reported in early April a suspected case of H5N1 bird flu at a chicken farm in Maradi, which is near the border with Nigeria where several cases have been confirmed.

Out of 2,440 poultry birds on the farm in Maradi, 2,290 died from the disease, the OIE said in a statement, citing a report from Niger’s veterinary services.

Click HERE for the complete article.

Alaska Public Media — Migrating Birds May Carry Viral Baggage

By Lauren Rosenthal, KUCB – Unalaska | April 20, 2015

Right now, a lethal strain of bird flu is wreaking havoc in the Lower 48. It’s clear that migrating flocks have something to do with spreading the illness between farms and across continents — but exactly what is still fuzzy.

A remote spot in Southwest Alaska may hold some clues.

Vm P

The Izembek National Wildlife Refuge is pretty far off the road system — unless you count the avian highways that run overhead.

“Izembek provides wonderful staging habitat for large numbers of migratory birds both from Eurasia and North America,” says Andy Ramey, a geneticist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “So there’s potential for viruses to mix and be spread among birds at that location.”

Click HERE for the complete article.

Bloomberg — U.S. Bird Flu Outbreak Hits Millions of Iowa Egg-Laying Hens

by Megan DurisinShruti Date Singh
12:26 PM EDT
April 21, 2015

“Despite best efforts, we now confirm many of our birds are testing positive” for avian influenza, closely held Sonstegard Foods Co. said in a statement dated April 20. The company said its Sunrise Farms unit close to Harris, Iowa, in Osceola County has 3.8 million hens.
The U.S. in February had 362.1 million egg-laying hens, and Iowa with about 59.6 million is the state with the most, the latest government data on March 23 showed. Commercial turkey flocks with more than 2.5 million birds in eight states have been reported with the virus by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including more than 425,000 on Tuesday.
“A lot of poultry meat and eggs won’t make it to market,” John Glisson, a vice president of research at the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, said during a panel discussion Tuesday at a National Chicken Council conference in Cambridge, Maryland. The U.S. and Canada are “implementing plans that have been set up for years” to fight disease, he said.

Click HERE for the complete article.

CIDRAP — H5N2 strikes again in Iowa, Minnesota

Robert Roos | News Editor | CIDRAP News | Apr 20, 2015

The H5N2 avian influenza virus has again widened its footprint, invading a large chicken farm in Iowa—the second outbreak in that state—and affecting two more turkey farms in Minnesota, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported today.

In addition, a highly pathogenic H5 virus has hit a chicken farm in Ontario near where H5N2 struck a turkey farm earlier this month, Canadian authorities reported over the weekend. They have not yet specified the virus subtype, but H5N2 seems likely.

Iowa, Minnesota outbreaksClick HERE for the complete article.

Post Online Media — Governor Dayton declares avian flu state of emergency in Minnesota

Friday April 24, 2015 12:08PM ET

Just a few days ago a second outbreak of avian influenza has been discovered in Iowa, this time at a commercial chicken laying facility in Osceola County in northwest Iowa and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker declared a state of emergency to address the virus.

The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) in Minnesota will activate the Minnesota Emergency Operations Plan to support the efforts of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, to coordinate response efforts across all agencies of state government.

Click HERE for the complete article.

AP — Iowa poultry farms on alert to prevent outbreaks of virus

Bird flu at a turkey farm raises concerns that a deadly virus could affect egg-laying farms.


DES MOINES, Iowa — The discovery of bird flu on an Iowa turkey farm has raised serious concerns that the poultry-killing virus could find its way into chicken barns in the nation’s top egg-producing state and rapidly decimate flocks that provide the U.S. with its breakfast staple.

Iowa is home to roughly 50 million hens that lay nearly one in every five eggs consumed in the country.

Poultry farms in Iowa, like this one near Stuart, are taking steps to protect their flocks from bird flu. Farm workers in the nation’s top egg-producing state are dipping their boots in disinfectant before entering barns, while upgraded ventilation systems help to keep wild birds out of barns.

Poultry farms in Iowa, like this one near Stuart, are taking steps to protect their flocks from bird flu. Farm workers in the nation’s top egg-producing state are dipping their boots in disinfectant before entering barns, while upgraded ventilation systems help to keep wild birds out of barns. The Associated Press

The highly contagious H5N2 virus has not yet been detected in Iowa chicken barns, but it was confirmed Tuesday on a turkey farm in northwest Iowa – marking the first occurrence in the state of the virus, which has forced farmers to kill more than 2.4 million turkeys and chickens in several Midwestern states since March.

Click HERE for the complete article.

The StarPhoenix — New genome project to identify avian flu hot spots in Fraser Valley


Local scientists are fast-tracking a genomic surveillance system to detect new, virulent avian flu viruses in wild birds in order to predict and hopefully prevent outbreaks in domestic birds.

A novel avian flu that recently swept through poultry farms in B.C. contained a blend of genetic material from a North American avian flu and the pathogenic Eurasian H5N8 virus, the first of its kind to be detected in North America. The H5N2 virus is particularly deadly for domestic poultry and has led to the destruction of 245,000 birds in B.C.

A new research project, funded by Genome BC, Genome Canada, Agriculture Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, will bring together experts from the Provincial Health Services Authority, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative.

The H5N2 avian flu virus infected 15 farms in Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack last December, and the same virus may have spread to Ontario where they are battling an avian flu outbreak.

The migratory routes of birds from North and South America, Europe and Asian overlap at several locations across Alaska and northern Canada. This is likely where the viruses intermingled, exchanging chunks of genetic material to form a new and highly pathogenic avian influenza. Climate change could alter those flyways and lead to more mixing of potential pathogens, said Chelsea Himsworth, a veterinary pathologist with the ministry of agriculture.

Click HERE for the complete article.

Reuters — U.S. bird flu outbreak accelerates as wild ducks migrate north


(Reuters) – A U.S. outbreak of a deadly strain of bird flu accelerated on Wednesday with the infection of a sixth turkey flock in Minnesota, the nation’s top turkey-producing state, in less than a week.

The infected flock of 310,000 turkeys was the ninth case of the H5N2 flu in Minnesota in just over a month and the biggest flock yet to be confirmed with the disease, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The virus was detected at a facility west of Minneapolis that is owned by a subsidiary of Spam maker Hormel Foods Corp, the company said.

Since the beginning of the year, the flu, which can kill nearly an entire poultry flock within 48 hours, has also been found in birds from Oregon to Arkansas. The discoveries have prompted major overseas buyers such as Mexico and Canada to limit imports of U.S. poultry and companies such as Tyson Foods Inc to strengthen measures to keep the disease off farms.

The number of infections is climbing as migratory ducks, which are believed to be spreading the disease, return to Minnesota to breed after spending the winter farther south, said Beth Thompson, assistant director of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health. The larger number of ducks likely increases the risk for wild birds to transmit the virus.

Farm workers are probably infecting turkeys by tracking the virus into barns after stepping in contaminated duck feces, said John Glisson, vice president of research for the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association. Chicken flocks are also vulnerable.

Click HERE for the complete article.