Skip to main content

If bird flu comes back, Minnesota won't be blindsided this time

Poultry experts in Minnesota say the state's better prepared for avian influenza than it was a couple years ago.

Bird flu outbreaks reported in the past week at a chicken farm in Tennessee and in a turkey flock in western Wisconsin have Minnesota's big-bucks poultry industry on the lookout for the virus.

But two years after avian influenza put a big dent in the industry, Minnesota says it's better prepared to handle an outbreak if one arrives.

State Veterinarian Beth Thompson tells Forum News Service: "We are watching what happens with that virus over in Barron County (Wisconsin), but we have done a lot of planning since 2015 and we are confident in our response."

2015 was a costly year

There are a lot of things about bird flu that poultry experts don't know for sure. Where it comes from is a biggie.

But one thing they agree on is there's no real threat to human health from it. Instead, the fears about bird flu are financial ones.

Minnesota, which is the country's top turkey-producing state, lost nearly $650 million to the 2015 outbreak, the U of M calculated. Millions of birds either died of the virus or were killed to try to keep it from spreading.

Besides all the farmers who lost their flocks, the cost of the outbreak spread to those who work at processing plants or the truck drivers who normally haul those birds to market. Consumers felt the pinch, too, when the smaller number of birds drove up prices for turkey and eggs.

What's different now?

For one thing, poultry farmers know what to look for and are ready to respond as soon as they see any signs of the illness in their birds.

Also, the state has done more research and now has a special poultry-testing lab set up in Willmar.

Jennie O credits "experienced flock management personnel" with identifying the bird flu at one of its farms in Barron, Wisconsin. The company also notes the influenza strain that turned up there is less potent than the kind that was found in Tennessee, which is like the 2015 strain.

That "low pathogenic" kind of flu is not such a threat to birds, Reuters notes. It's associated mainly with wild birds, some of whom are migrating through Minnesota this time of year.

Next Up

image

Animal Humane Society plans trailblazing new campus

Take a look inside the plans for a first-of-its-kind adoption center and animal care campus.

syphilis

Minnesota reports 'concerning level' of syphilis cases

The Minnesota Department of Health says most of the cases are being discovered in the northern part of the state.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Airport police intercept 5,600 fentanyl pills headed to St. Cloud

Three were arrested following a police raid in St. Cloud.

covid

Minnesota switches to weekly COVID updates

The weekly updates will be provided on Thursdays.

Screen Shot 2022-06-29 at 12.22.08 PM

Man shot inside Oakdale movie theater expected to survive

The 23-year-old victim underwent surgery and is recovering at the hospital.

monkeypox

Minnesota confirms second case of monkeypox virus

More cases are expected in the coming days and weeks, the health department says.

covid

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Wednesday, June 29

One of the newly reported deaths was a person aged 15-19 from Yellow Medicine County.

Screen Shot 2022-06-29 at 10.19.37 AM

Drone drops bag of candy near kids fishing

A black SUV quickly left the area afterwards.

FLickr - AL Franken 2016 - Lorie Shaull

Al Franken to bring comedy tour to Minneapolis

Acme Comedy is hosting the former senator in late August.

Alabama

Alabama replaces Toby Keith as headliner at MN music festival

The Lakefront Music Festival is set to take place in Prior Lake on July 8-9.

Related

If you would appreciate a $1 sandwich, it's your day

Jimmy John's is selling $1 subs on Tuesday – with some conditions attached.

If you would appreciate a $1 sandwich, it's your day

Jimmy John's is selling $1 subs on Tuesday – with some conditions attached.

Video of toddler saving brother is another reminder of 'tipover' hazard

The popular video has a happier ending than most tipover accidents

Minnesota's measles outbreak has spread to another county

It's now Minnesota's biggest measles outbreak of the last 20 years.