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Less dangerous avian influenza strain confirmed in Minnesota turkey flock

WILLMAR, Minn. - The Minnesota Board of Animal Health reported Tuesday, Oct. 23, that it has confirmed a case of H5N2 low pathogenic avian influenza in a commercial turkey flock in Kandiyohi County in central Minnesota.

This is not the same virus that was the cause of the highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak that caused thousands of poultry deaths in the Midwest in 2015.

The disease, known as H5N2 LPAI, was detected during routine surveillance testing of a flock of 10,000 13-week-old turkey toms on Oct. 19.

This farm includes an additional three barns housing 10,000 birds each, all of which have tested negative.

H5N2 LPAI does not pose a risk to the public, and there is no food safety concern for consumers, said the Board of Animal Health.

The board is working with all federal, state and industry partners to prevent the spread of the disease. Poultry producers are asked to maintain strong biosecurity practices at their facilities to isolate their flocks from outside sources of infection.

Tracheal swab samples were collected from turkeys and submitted to the Minnesota Poultry Testing Laboratory in Willmar.. Tests identified the virus as an H5 influenza strain. The board quarantined the flock and sent samples to the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa. The lab confirmed the presence of H5N2 low pathogenic avian influenza virus of North American origin on Oct. 20.

The board has increased observation of the quarantined flock, watching for any signs of disease, and has increased surveillance of commercial poultry operations within about six miles of the positive flock, all with negative test results. At this time, the affected flock is not showing signs of illness or mortality.

The birds will be quarantined until they test negative for disease, at which time they will be controlled marketed.

Turkey producers and farmers who have questions should contact Dr. Linda Glaser, assistant executive director of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, email: linda.glaser@state.mn.us , phone: 651-201-6828.