Thursday, April 23, 2015

Some believe avian flu spreads through the air

Deadly bird flu swelled in the poultry industry in Minnesota and neighboring Wisconsin amid speculation that winds may be carrying Some believe avian flu spreads in the air virus particles into facilities housing turkeys and chickens, reports Bloomberg News.

“This is a catastrophe for both the turkey and the egg industries,” William Rehm, the president of Daybreak Foods Inc., said after his company’s farm in Jefferson County, Wisconsin, with 800,000 egg-laying hens was infected by bird flu.

“Some USDA veterinarians are starting to believe the virus is spreading from particulates in the air,” he says.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday confirmed that avian influenza was found in 13 turkey flocks in Minnesota with at least 430,300 birds. Since late 2014, the virus has been detected in commercial and backyard flocks with a combined estimate of at least 8 million birds, USDA data show. Migratory waterfowl along a Mississippi River flyway are believed by to be spreading the flu, agriculture officials say.

On a Minnesota visit, “there were 20 mile per hour winds, and you could see a lot of dust blowing,” John Clifford, the chief veterinary officer of the Washington-based USDA, said Wednesday on a media conference call.

“So what we’re talking about is the wind carrying potentially feathers or dust or things that could be a carrier of the virus and moving it” to structures with poultry, he said.

The most damaging outbreak will take out 5.3 million laying hens on a farm in Iowa where birds began dying this week.