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Avian flu infections now confirmed at 38 Minnesota sites, affecting 1.84 million birds

The inventory of flocks in Minnesota diagnosed with H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza is now at 1.84 million, according to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health. Four additional infection sites were announced Thursday, April 14.

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Four additional confirmed diagnoses of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza are included in Thursday's update from the Minnesota Board of Animal Health. More than 1.84 million birds have been affected in the state since the first cases in March.
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WILLMAR — The number of avian flu infection sites in Minnesota ticked up to 38 as of Thursday's state report, for a total of more than 1.84 million birds affected since March, most of them commercially raised turkeys.

New confirmations were announced in Benton, Blue Earth, Otter Tail and Waseca counties.

According to the state Board of Animal Health, H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza was confirmed Wednesday in three additional commercial meat turkey operations, and one backyard producer of seven birds in Benton County.

Benton County has had two reports total, both in backyard producers.

Thursday's report includes the first site in Blue Earth County, a flock of 22,500. Otter Tail now has its second site with a flock of 36,000, and Waseca County's third site is a flock of 20,000.

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The Board of Animal Health tally as of Thursday shows 1,842,860 affected birds statewide. Infected flocks are depopulated.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines depopulation as "when large numbers of animals must be destroyed in response to an animal health emergency."

The two main methods are water-based foam for floor-raised birds and carbon dioxide gas for caged birds. USDA says they are the most humane and effective options available in an emergency situation involving mass numbers of birds.

The vast majority of infections in Minnesota have been in commercial meat turkey operations. Other production types with confirmed diagnoses, according to the Board of Animal Health, have been three commercial turkey breeder hen flocks, all located in Kandiyohi County; two commercial chicken operations in Morrison County — one broiler flock and one egg layer flock; and four backyard producers.

The board's web page devoted to avian flu response in the state — bah.state.mn.us/hpai is updated at noon each weekday with the information that is known about infection sites. Data from previous days also may be updated by quality control staff if more accurate information is gathered later.

The first Minnesota cases of the disease — which is fatal to domestic poultry — were confirmed March 25.

A total of 17 counties in the state have been impacted so far. The other affected counties are Becker, Big Stone, Dodge, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, LeSueur, Meeker, Morrison, Mower, Renville, Stearns, Swift and Yellow Medicine.

Susan Lunneborg is the news editor of the West Central Tribune in Willmar, Minnesota. A journalist for more than 25 years, she has worked as a reporter and editor at newspapers in the Dakotas and Minnesota.
Lunneborg can be reached at: slunneborg@wctib.com or 320-214-4343.
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