Avian flu hits Minnesota turkeys for first time since May

Two commercial turkey flocks in Meeker County, Minnesota, tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza, making them the state's first avian influenza cases in commercial turkey operations since May.

Roy Graber Headshot
(Budabar | Bigstock)
(Budabar | Bigstock)

Two new cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) were confirmed in Minnesota turkey flocks on the evening of August 30, making them the first HPAI cases in commercial poultry in the state since May.

According to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health (MBOAH), the flocks are located in Meeker County. 

Samples from one flock were tested over the weekend at the Minnesota Poultry Testing Laboratory (MPTL) and were later confirmed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa.

An increase in bird mortality in that initial Meeker County turkey flock was reported last weekend, which led to samples being collected and tested at the MPTL. After a presumptive positive result at the MPTL, the flock was immediately quarantined and has since been depopulated to stop the spread of disease, MBOAH stated in a press release.

Since that press release was issued, MBOAH reported that a second commercial turkey flock in the county had also tested positive. One of the flocks included 128,599 birds and the other included 46,250 birds.

Prior to the discovery of HPAI in these Meeker County flocks, the last case in commercial poultry in Minnesota was confirmed on May 21, and that case involved a flock of 57,000 commercial turkeys in Dakota County. The last case of HPAI in backyard poultry was confirmed on May 31 in Becker County.

Despite the absence of HPAI in commercial poultry, the virus has continued to appear in wild birds in the Midwest, leading health officials to believe it would at some point return to commercial flocks.

“While the timing of this detection is a bit sooner than we anticipated, we have been preparing for a resurgence of the avian influenza we dealt with this spring,” said Senior Veterinarian Dr. Shauna Voss. “HPAI is here and biosecurity is the first line of defense to protect your birds.”

Outside of Minnesota, only other HPAI cases to be reported in commercial poultry in the United States in August were in California, with flocks in Fresno, Tuolumne and Sacramento counties affected.

To learn more about HPAI cases in North American commercial poultry flocks, see an interactive map on WATTPoultry.com.

Read our ongoing coverage of the global avian influenza outbreak.

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