MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — An outbreak of a deadly bird flu strain spread to one of the top poultry producing counties of the nation's top turkey producing state of Minnesota, government officials confirmed on Saturday, raising fears that the that the highly contagious disease could seriously damage the industry.
The highly pathogenic H5N2 strain of avian influenza has infected a third turkey farm in the state, this time a commercial flock of 39,000 birds in Stearns county in central Minnesota. The county is No. 2 in turkey production in Minnesota and is also one of the state's top chicken and egg producers.
State Veterinarian Bill Hartmann said one of the four barns at the Stearns County farm was infected and that many turkeys in it had already died. As is standard procedure, the farm has been quarantined and the remaining birds will be killed. The discovery followed the infections of two other farms in Pope and Lac qui Parle counties of western Minnesota, which have killed thousands of turkeys.
"This is obviously a huge concern to the industry. We are very worried because of the increased turkey production in this specific area," state Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson said.
Hartmann said there is no apparent connection between this flock and the previous two but investigations continue.