Friday, April 24, 2015

State of avian flu emergency in Minnesota

Minnesota governor  Mark Dayton has declared a state of emergency to cope with outbreaks of H5N2 avian influenza in turkey flocks.

The order authorizes use of emergency operations and personnel, including the National Guard if needed, to help farms maintain healthy flocks and prevent further economic hardship in the state’s poultry industry.

Minnesota is the country’s top turkey producing and processing state, with 450 family farmers raising about 46 million turkeys a year.

The H5N2 strain is spreading rapidly in the state. It has been confirmed in a total of 46 locations in 16 counties, affecting more than 2.1 million birds, since the state’s first case was confirmed in a commercial turkey flock on March 5.

Meanwhile, a Cornell University professor is cautioning against using vaccines to counter the spread of the virus. The source is believed to be migrating waterfowl.

If vaccines are used, the U.S. would lose export markets because it’s not possible to distinguish between a vaccinated and an infected bird. The tests are to detect antibodies which are generated by either a vaccine or the virus.