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Bird flu spreads to third Minnesota turkey farm

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The bird flu outbreak has spread to a third Minnesota turkey farm, officials confirmed Saturday.

The Associated Press reports the latest victim of H5N2 is a commercial flock of 39,000 turkeys in Stearns County.

The outbreak has already affected two other Minnesota farms.

The first reported strain was reported at a commercial turkey farm in Pope County earlier this month, killing 15,000 birds.

On Friday, a flock of 66,000 birds in Lac qui Paire County in western Minnesota was reported as infected; 22,000 birds died from the virus, and the rest were put down.

The strain of the H5N2 virus was also found in Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas.

The USDA advised in a news release earlier this week: “These virus strains can travel in wild birds without them appearing sick. People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.”

After the initial outbreak in Pope County, more than 40 countries announced import bans on poultry from Minnesota.

Minnesota is the nation's leading turkey producer, exporting about six million turkeys every year and adding about $100 million to the economy.

Reuters reports the USDA is working to develop a vaccine for the new strains of the avian flu, but it has not yet been distributed.

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