H5N2 reaches Wisconsin, expands in SD, Minnesota

Tuesday, April 14, 2015
By Paul Martin

Robert Roos
Apr 13, 2015

The rash of H5N2 avian influenza outbreaks has spread farther across the Midwest, with a Wisconsin chicken farm joining the list of affected sites today, following two new turkey outbreaks in South Dakota and another in Minnesota over the weekend.

Poultry scientists say it’s a mystery why the virus is popping up in many widely scattered locations in a short period, especially given that on most farms, just one of several barns is hit by the virus. In Minnesota, wildlife experts have not found the virus in any wild birds so far.

Wisconsin, South Dakota, Minnesota outbreaks
The outbreak in southeastern Wisconsin’s Jefferson County is the first on a commercial chicken farm in the Midwest, all of the previous ones having involved turkey farms (though a backyard poultry flock in Kansas was hit in March). The virus struck a commercial flock of 200,000 layer chickens, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) reported.

Increased deaths in the flock prompted officials to commission testing by the Missouri Department of Agriculture Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, with results confirmed by the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, the USDA said.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, in a statement today, put the size of the flock at 180,000. The USDA and state officials said they plan to mount the standard response to the outbreak, including quarantine of the farm, culling of all the chickens, and testing of poultry in the surrounding area.

The two new outbreaks in South Dakota, announced Apr 10, are the state’s third and fourth. One involves a farm with 53,000 turkeys in McCook County, which is northwest of Sioux Falls, and the other involves a flock of 46,000 turkeys in McPherson County in the northeastern part of the state.

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