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40 countries ban Minnesota poultry imports after bird flu discovery

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More than 40 countries are banning poultry imports from Minnesota after a serious strain of avian flu killed 15,000 turkeys at a commercial farm in the west of the state.

The USDA revealed on Thursday that the "highly pathogenic" H5N2 strain of bird flu had been discovered at an unidentified farm in Pope County, western Minnesota, and that 15,000 birds had died as a result.

Steps are being taken to limit the spread from the farm, which has been quarantined, and officials are working to "depopulate" the remainder of the flock, which according to KARE 11 will lead to another 29,000 turkeys being euthanized on Friday or Saturday.

But the Associated Press reports that other countries aren't taking any risks, with the entire European Union among the 40-plus countries that have placed a ban on all poultry imports from Minnesota, and not just those from the west of the state.

The news agency estimates this could jeopardize around $100 million in international exports, with six million turkeys exported from Minnesota every year.

Four workers at the farm are currently being monitored for exposure to the disease, but health officials say the strain is unlikely to infect humans.

Other turkey farms in the state are now having to take precautions to prevent the virus spreading to their flock, the Star Tribune reports, such as by using disinfectant on footpaths, and trimming the grass regularly to stop rodents from getting to the birds.

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