Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on April 20 signed an executive order that authorizes the Wisconsin National Guard to assist authorities in the response to the avian influenza outbreaks that have affected poultry in Jefferson, Juneau, and Barron counties.

“We must act quickly and efficiently to contain the outbreak and protect domestic poultry,” Walker said.  “It is important to note, however, there is no threat to humans with the avian flu outbreak.”

H5N2 avian influenza has been detected in three Wisconsin poultry flocks, affecting tens of thousands of chickens and turkeys. The virus was discovered in a commercial flock of 126,000 turkeys in Barron County, as well as in a flock of 40 mixed breed birds in Juneau County, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (WDATCP) reported on April 16. The state’s first confirmed case of avian influenza was reported on April 13, infecting a flock of about 180,000 egg-laying chickens in Jefferson County.

Walker’s executive order allows the Wisconsin National Guard to assist in the response and help contain the outbreak, as well as offer assistance in site clean-up. The state veterinarian, through WDATCP, requested up to 14 Guard personnel be made available, on a rotating schedule, for immediate assistance. This assistance from the Wisconsin National Guard is necessary because federal resources are thin, due to avian influenza virus outbreaks in other states, particularly in the Midwest, Walker stated.