By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor
OMAHA (DTN) -- The highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza has now been detected in Iowa for the first time, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced Tuesday. Eight new cases of H5N2 were found in Minnesota as well.
All new cases, both in Iowa and Minnesota, were found in commercial turkey flocks between 20,000 and 160,000 birds in size. The cases were all located within the Mississippi Flyway where this strain of avian influenza has previously been identified.
On Monday, USDA also reported a 200,000-bird chicken commercial egg-laying flock tested positive in Jefferson County, Wisconsin. That case was significant because it was the first reported commercial chicken operation to test positive for H5N2. Turkeys are considered more susceptible, but chickens can contract it as well.
Tuesday's announcement of an infected 27,000-bird flock in Buena Vista County, Iowa, also filled in a gap in the Mississippi flyway, as several surrounding states had already reported infected flocks.
Minnesota officials held a press call Tuesday afternoon as they announced the eight new cases adding up to 542,500 birds that were either infected or will be euthanized. Minnesota has reported 22 farms infected with the highly pathogenic avian influenza with roughly 1.3 million birds either dying from the flu or being euthanized.
State officials noted there were about 600 turkey farms in Minnesota, so fewer than 4% have been infected. Still, the number of farms hit by H5N2 is likely to grow. "We do expect to see additional infected herds as we move through the spring," said Bill Hartmann, Minnesota's state veterinarian.
Hartmann noted there were 130 state and federal workers helping to clean out the farms, trace the origin of the disease and help tighten biosecurity on farms across the state.
Hartmann said producers have to work quickly to notify officials when a barn has been infected because indemnity payments are based on the number of live birds left when the outbreak is confirmed.
He reiterated comments from USDA that they are still trying to figure out exactly how farms are being infected in Minnesota.
As far as the economic impact of the H5N2 outbreaks, countries are updating their list of banned poultry products pretty quickly. Twenty-two countries and the entire European Union have updated their poultry bans since Monday. Canada, for instance, has filed notices banning all raw poultry products from Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa.
Avian influenza is a highly contagious viral disease that can quickly spread between various types of birds. It is carried by free-flying waterfowl such as ducks, geese and shorebirds. It can spread rapidly to domestic flocks through infected food or water, or through contact with infected wild birds. The outbreaks of avian influenza occurring in these and other states are not considered to be a threat to public health or the food supply.
Minnesota officials stressed Tuesday that H5N2 is not a risk to public health or food safety. No human infections with the virus have been detected at this time. Still, state health officials have monitored 60 people who worked at various turkey farms and given Tamiflu to about half of the workers who showed any symptoms of a cold.
Steve Olson, executive director of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, praised the state and federal coordination in dealing with the infected farms thus far. Olson said H5N2 "is a game-changer" for the turkey industry and could remain in the U.S. for the next three to five years.
APHIS is working closely with state health and agriculture departments to make sure birds from the flocks do not enter the food system.
Here's a tally of states, counties and flocks where infections have been identified.
4/14 Kandiyohi County, Minnesota. 30,000 turkeys (4th detection in the county)
4/14 La Sueur County, Minnesota. 21,500 turkeys (1st detection in the county)
4/14 Meeker County, Minnesota. 25,000 turkeys (2nd detection in the county)
4/14 Meeker County, Minnesota. 20,000 turkeys (3rd detection in the county)
4/14 Stearns County, Minnesota. 76,000 turkeys (5th detection in the county)
4/14 Swift County, Minnesota. 160,000 turkeys (1st detection in the county)
4/14 Swift County, Minnesota. 154,000 turkeys (2nd detection in the county)
4/14 Redwood County, Minnesota. 56,000 turkeys (1st detection in the county)
4/14 Buena Vista County, Iowa. 27,000 turkeys
4/13 Jefferson County, Wisconsin. 200,000 chickens
4/11 Dickey County, North Dakota. 40,000 turkeys
4/11 Kandiyohi County, Minnesota. 38,000 turkeys (3rd detection in the county)
4/10 McCook County, South Dakota. 53,000 turkeys
4/10 McPherson County, South Dakota. 46,000 turkeys
4/10 Cottonwood County, Minnesota. 48,000 turkeys
4/10 Lyon County, Minnesota. 66,000 turkeys
4/10 Stearns County, Minnesota. 45,000 turkeys (4th detection in the county)
4/10 Watonwan County, Minnesota. 30,000 turkeys
4/9 Kingsbury County, South Dakota. 34,000 turkeys
4/8 Meeker County, Minnesota, 310,000 commercial turkeys
4/7 Kandiyohi County, Minnesota, 30,000 turkeys (2nd detection in the county)
4/6 Stearns County, Minnesota. 76,000 turkeys (3rd detection in the county)
4/6 Kandiyohi County, Minnesota. 26,000 turkeys (3rd detection in the county)
4/2 Beadle County, South Dakota. 35,000 turkeys
4/2 Judith Basin County, Montana. Backyard mixed poultry flock
4/2 Nobles County, Minnesota. 21,000 turkeys
4/2 Stearns County, Minnesota. 35,000 turkeys 2nd detection in the county)
3/28 Stearns County, Minnesota. 39,000 turkeys
3/27 Lac Qui Parle County, Minnesota. 66,000 turkeys
3/26 Laramie County, Wyoming. Wild Canada geese
3/13 Leavenworth County, Kansas. Backyard mixed poultry flock
3/11 Boone County, Arkansas. 40,020 turkeys
3/10 Moniteau County, Missouri. Commercial turkey flock
3/9 Jasper County, Missouri. Commercial turkey flock
3/4 Pope County, Minnesota. Commercial turkey flock
2/17 Deschutes County, Oregon. Backyard mixed poultry flock
2/12 Kings County, California. Commercial chicken flock
2/3 Okanogan County, Washington. Backyard chicken flock
1/29 Okanogan County, Washington. Backyard pheasant flock
1/23 Stanislaus County, California. Commercial turkey flock
1/16 Canyon County, Idaho. Backyard mixed poultry flock
1/16 Clallam County, Washington. Backyard mixed poultry flock
1/9 Benton County, Washington. Backyard mixed poultry flock
1/3 Douglas County, Oregon. Backyard mixed poultry flock
Federal and state partners are working together on additional surveillance and testing in adjoining areas.
The U.S. has the strongest avian influenza surveillance program in the world and is actively checking for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets and in migratory wild bird populations, according to the APHIS news release. Information gathered is routinely updated to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), which notifies international trading partners as needed. If needed, OIE can call on countries to limit restrictions of animals and animal products in regions that pose a risk of spreading the disease.
POULTRY PRODUCERS URGED TO REVIEW BIOSECURITY PROGRAMS
The U.S. Poultry and Egg Association is urging poultry producers to be diligent and mindful of the virus and to review their biosecurity programs, and especially to watch traffic coming in and out of their facilities. Even if commercial flocks are kept in contained buildings with little exposure to wild birds, any type of equipment coming into a facility from other areas must be cleaned and disinfected.
New animals should be isolated for 30 days before having contact with other birds. Any birds that have been off the farm for exhibitions, shows, petting zoos, etc. should also be isolated for 30 days.
Producers should also restrict access to property, having only one area where visitors are allowed, and either prohibit visitors from areas near livestock or require them to wear disposable footwear or clothing. Producers should also maintain strict biosecurity procedures for employees and family.
Hunters can also pose a risk to their flocks. Hunting dogs should not be allowed access to flocks without being decontaminated, and any hunters entering the farmyard need to clean and sanitize their vehicles.
Sick animals should be reported to a veterinarian, local Extension office or state or federal animal health officials. For questions, USDA is maintaining a toll-free hotline (866-536-7593) for free help from veterinarians.
More information about avian influenza can be found on the USDA avian influenza page: http://goo.gl/…
Currently, there is no effective treatment for the disease. Vaccines for avian influenza have been developed, but since there are 15 strains of the disease, they are not widely used.
© Copyright 2015 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.