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Bird flu could be around 'for five years,' as more cases confirmed in Wisconsin

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The bird flu outbreak that has affected more than 20 farms and 1.5 million birds in Minnesota could be around for up to five years.

That's what John Clifford, chief veterinary officer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, told Minnesota lawmakers Thursday at an agriculture committee hearing, the Star Tribune reports.

He said that the way in which the virus has adapted is "very unusual."

While Minnesota has been the epicenter of the current outbreak, Clifford said it is likely some form of the virus will reach all parts of the country, commenting "it's just something in North America that we may have to live with for a few years."

His comments come after it was confirmed on Tuesday that the deadly H5N2 strain of avian flu has been found on another eight commercial turkey farms in Minnesota, bringing the total in the state to 22.

It means that almost 1.5 million birds have died from the flu or been euthanized to prevent its spread. Every year more than 240 million turkeys are produced in Minnesota.

And the spread of the virus continues, with two more farms confirming their flocks are infected with the virus in Barron and Juneau counties in Wisconsin.

Channel 3000 reports that the Barron County outbreak is affecting 126,000 turkeys on a large commercial farm, while in Juneau County a flock of just 40 birds of different species have been infected.

Tests are currently being carried out to see whether it is the same strain seen in Minnesota.

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