Nearly 1 million chickens have been culled at a Minnesota egg operation, marking the highest death toll at a single poultry farm in the state during the ongoing bird flu outbreak. The farm, located in Wright County, had 940,000 egg-laying chickens when the virus was detected earlier this month. In order to prevent the further spread of the disease, all birds at the affected operation had to be culled, according to disease management protocol.
Since early 2022, Minnesota has witnessed the killing or culling of approximately 5.5 million birds, primarily turkeys, to contain the spread of the virus, as reported by the state Board of Animal Health. The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is primarily transmitted by wild migrating birds. With the autumn migration of these birds, Minnesota’s commercial poultry farms have been hit with a fresh wave of outbreaks.
Dr. Brian Hoefs, the state veterinarian, emphasized the significance of persistent biosecurity measures in light of the ongoing fall wave of HPAI. The frequency of outbreaks highlights the virus’s persistence in impacting poultry in the state. Five counties in Minnesota, known as the nation’s leading turkey producer, have witnessed the killing of over 350,000 turkeys in the past month alone.
Officials, however, do not anticipate these recent outbreaks to affect the availability or pricing of Thanksgiving turkeys. While bird flu does not pose a risk to food safety, it significantly contributed to the limited egg supply and record-high prices experienced last winter.
In neighboring Iowa, over 16 million birds, primarily egg-laying chickens from large operations, have been killed in the ongoing bird flu outbreak. This number accounts for more than a quarter of the nationwide death toll, which stands at 61 million birds. Fortunately, Iowa has not witnessed a resurgence of cases at egg producers this year. As a result, egg prices have remained stable at around $2 per dozen.
Minnesota health officials are urging the public to report any sick or dead animals found in the wild, along with any irregularities in backyard poultry flocks and commercial operations, to the state Avian Influenza Hotline. Prompt reporting and vigilance can aid in containing the spread of the virus and protecting the poultry industry in the state.
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