Another eight commercial turkey farms in Minnesota have fallen victim to deadly bird flu – bringing the total in the state to 22.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed Tuesday that the H5N2 strain of the virus has been discovered eight farms housing a combined 542,000 turkeys.
Those birds not killed by the virus will be euthanized to prevent the spread, bringing the total losses in the state to 1.5 million birds, with 910,000 affected on the 14 farms previously found to have the virus.
Furthermore, the USDA says that the disease is now showing up in counties where it hadn't appeared before, including two farms in Swift County, and farms in Le Sueur and Redwood counties.
The affected flocks are in:
- Kandiyohi County – 30,000 turkeys (4th detection in the county)
- La Sueur County – 21,500 turkeys (1st detection)
- Meeker County – 25,000 turkeys (2nd detection)
- Meeker County – 20,000 turkeys (3rd detection)
- Stearns County – 76,000 turkeys (5th detection)
- Swift County – 160,000 turkeys (1st detection)
- Swift County – 154,000 turkeys (2nd detection)
- Redwood County – 56,000 turkeys (1st detection)
More farms likely to follow
Experts have been predicting that the virus will continue to spread, with state veterinarian Bill Hartmann telling the Associated Press he expects more farms to be hit before the threat recedes.
As well as spreading to turkey farms in the Dakotas, NBC News reports that it has now spread to chickens, after it was confirmed that the H5N2 strain was found on a commercial chicken farm in Wisconsin.
Although 1.3 million is a small fraction of the 240 million turkeys produced in Minnesota each year, farmers have started counting the cost of the virus already, with MPR reporting they have lost a combined $15.7 million to avian influenza since the outbreak began.
The Star Tribune notes that Austin, Minnesota-based Hormel Foods – the owner of Jennie-O Turkey and the nation's second biggest turkey producer – is among those who will take a financial hit after bird flu was discovered on one of its farms in Meeker County.
This doesn't include the latest flocks to be infected, and the costs to farms will grow further as it continues to spread.
Officials continue to say that the virus has not been passed to humans and the risk to public health is low.