Gov. Dayton carves up bird to show turkey is still safe to eat amid avian flu outbreak

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Despite the rapid spread of the deadly avian flu virus, poultry producers continue to remind the public that turkey is still safe to eat, as any bird that tests positive for the virus does not enter the food supply.

Gov. Mark Dayton wanted to reassure Minnesotans of this, so he carved a 25-pound, Minnesota-raised turkey for his interns for lunch Wednesday at the Governor's Residence in St. Paul, MinnPost reports.

Video. of Gov Dayton assuring Minnesotans that turkey is safe to eat while in midst of #birdflu crisis. pic.twitter.com/dEc7FRaoUG

— Timothy Blotz (@TimBlotzFOX9) April 29, 2015

“As turkey farmers across our state deal with the devastating effects of avian influenza, it is more important than ever for all Minnesotans to support the Minnesota turkey industry,” Dayton said in a news release. “Our turkey growers need more than our help in stopping the spread of this disease; they need our full support as consumers to buy and eat good Minnesota turkey.”

Dayton also announced the state may set up a low-interest loan program for farmers affected by the bird flu, The Associated Press reports.

As of Tuesday, officials have detected the deadly H5N2 HPAI on 56 farms in 18 counties, bringing the total number of affected birds to over 3.3 million, most of them turkeys, a news release notes, since it was first discovered in the state back in March.

Wild birds test negative for virus

As officials continue to investigate how the deadly virus is spreading in hopes of eradicating the virus, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says it may consider adding blood testing to wild birds as part of their surveillance program, MPR News reports.

The DNR already collects wild bird droppings to test for the flu – wild waterfowl are believed to be carriers of the virus – but none of the more than 2,200 samples it has collected have tested positive for the virus, MPR notes.

Hunters have also brought more than two dozen wild turkeys they've shot to the DNR for testing, the West Central Tribune says. No results from those tests have been received yet.

The disease has turned up in wild birds in Kentucky, the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy says.

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