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Deadly bird flu strikes 5th Minnesota turkey farm

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A deadly avian flu has struck a fifth Minnesota commercial turkey operation.

The St Cloud Times notes the most recent confirmed outbreak is the second case of bird flu to strike in Stearns County. The presence of H5N2 avian influenza was confirmed in a farm with a flock of 71,000 turkeys Thursday.

A veterinarian with the Minnesota Board of Animal Health told MPR News that it's unclear how the virus is getting into the barns, but investigators suspect there could be a link to migrating ducks.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is looking for waterfowl that may carry the pathogenic influenza disease. A DNR spokeswoman said the agency has collected 148 environmental samples from waterfowl in frozen and open water in Pope County; that's where the first confirmed case of avian flu was spotted in a commercial turkey flock.

There have been no human infections of the virus, and the state's turkey producers are stressing that the outbreaks do not present a danger to food safety.

According to the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, some 241,000 birds have or will have to be euthanized on the five farms where the strain has been detected.

"That's about half a percent of our total annual production, so it's still a pretty small amount," Steve Olson, executive director of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, told the newspaper.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that avian influenza has been confirmed in a commercial turkey flock of 53,000 birds in Beadle County in eastern South Dakota. The infected flock is on Riverside Farms, one of several Hutterite colonies that own and supply turkeys to Dakota Turkey Growers LLC.

The South Dakota flock has been quarantined and the birds will be killed to prevent the spread of the disease. The state Health Department also is involved.

The outbreaks have also hit turkey farms in Missouri, which has lost 51,000 birds; Arkansas has lost 40,020. Kansas officials have refused to release their losses.

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