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Low-Path Bird Flu Found on Minnesota Farm

by 5m Editor
6 August 2009, at 10:04a.m.

MINNESOTA, US - Low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI; sub-type H7N9) has been found at the turkey farm in Meeker County.

A mild case of avian influenza (AI) has prompted quarantine of a Meeker County turkey farm, according to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health (BAH).

Litchfield Independent Review reports that the case was detected after samples were collected from the commercial turkey flock and submitted to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, where the virus was confirmed as avian influenza subtype H7N9 this week.

The birds appear healthy and show no sign of infection, according to BAH. The poultry on the premises have been quarantined by BAH. As a result of this finding, BAH is following the state's response and containment plan by establishing a surveillance zone around the operation. All flocks within three miles will be repeatedly tested for the virus for six weeks, along with any flocks linked to the farm.

"This infection is causing no illness in turkeys, but it should serve as a reminder to all of us involved with animal agriculture," Minnesota Board of Animal Health Assistant Director and Minnesota Poultry Testing Laboratory Director, Dr Dale Lauer. "We need to be vigilant in observing the strictest possible biosecurity to protect our animals."

According to Dr Lauer, it is not uncommon to find evidence of avian influenza viruses in domestic poultry flocks. Various forms of AI are detected every year as a result of routine surveillance testing by animal health officials. Rather than actual virus identification, detections usually involve the discovery of virus antibodies produced by the birds' immune systems during past exposure to an AI virus. Less frequently, an actual virus may be detected in a bird. The Meeker County case is the first incident this year in which officials have confirmed the presence of a virus.

"AI is a fact of life in poultry production because the virus is endemic in wild birds, which can then pass it on to domestic birds," Dr Lauer said. "These introductions are identified, isolated and eliminated thanks to the cooperation between the board and the poultry industry. As the country's number one turkey producing state, Minnesota has a robust network for AI surveillance and response. Minnesota turkey remains safe."

Further Reading

- You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.