A commercial turkey farm of 310,000 birds in Meeker County, MN, an operation of the Jennie-O Turkey Store, has tested positive for the deadly strain of avian influenza making it the ninth commercial turkey farm struck with the disease in the state, according to the Associated Press.
A second commercial turkey farm in South Dakota has also confirmed the presence of a form of avian influenza. In all, 14 commercial turkey farms have been hit by the disease since March, according to USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
Minnesota is one of the top turkey producing states in the US. Birds from the affected flocks will not enter the foods system and CDC considers the overall risk to humans to be low.
APHIS is working closely with the Minnesota Board of Animal Health on a joint incident response.
According to APHIS, the HPAI H5N8 virus originated in Asia and spread rapidly along wild bird migratory pathways during 2014, including the Pacific flyway. Here the virus mixed with North American avian influenza viruses, creating new mixed-origin viruses which is highly pathogenic to poultry.
USDA has identified two mixed-origin viruses in the Pacific Flyway: the HPAI H5N2 virus and new HPAI H5N1 virus. Only the HPAI H5N2 virus has been detected in the Pacific, Mississippi and Central Flyways.