A strain of bird flu, the most lethal to hit the United States, is causing concern for farmers and scientists. The H5N2 strain of the bird flu has already killed 15,000 turkeys in Minnesota alone. The same virus strain has reportedly been detected in birds in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.
H5N2 poses a low risk to humans, health officials claim. To date, no H5N2 bird flu infections have been detected in humans anywhere around the globe. The deadly avian flu strain was first discovered in a large commercial flock of turkeys in Pope County, Minnesota. Less than 100 turkeys were left untouched by the bird flu strain on the Minnesota farm. The flock was immediately quarantined and stricken birds killed.
Minnesota is the top turkey producer in the United States. The turkey industry reportedly produces approximately 46 million turkeys each year worth around $750 million. About $92 million worth of turkeys is exported annually.
Turkeys that are part of other commercial flocks and backyard flocks within a six-mile radius of the Pope County farm are being tested for the H5N2 bird flu. So far, no other signs of the virus have been found in the other Minnesota flocks.
"We're encouraged that we'll be able to prevent the spread of the disease,' Dr. Bill Hartmann of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health said. 'We should be able to contain this without much difficulty.' The H5N2 avian flu virus is reportedly carried by wild waterfowl, which are not impacted by the disease. The bird flu strain incubation period is about 21 days. "'If we can get through the next 21 days without finding anything, we should be in good shape," Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson said. "We can only prepare for the worst and hope for the best."
Minnesota Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger maintains that only the four individuals who worked with the H5N2 bird flu-stricken turkeys were placed at physical risk and are being monitored. The health official is not permitted to release the name of the avian flu infected farm in Pope County.
"There are no food safety concerns at this time. This is not a threat to the general public," Commissioner Ehlinger added.According to Ehlinger, like most commercial farms, the infected turkeys were kept inside a barn and never go outside. The turkeys infected with the H5N2 virus all reportedly came from one of the four barns on the Minnesota farm.
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