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USDA Detects Avian Influenza – Strain urges bird owners to maintain biosecurity

March 11, 2015

Baton Rouge, La. (March 11, 2015) –The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza (AI) in commercial turkey flocks in Pope County, Minnesota, also in Jasper and Moniteau Counties in Missouri.  These are the first findings in the Mississippi flyway, a typical migratory path. It is the same strain of avian influenza that has been confirmed in backyard and wild birds in Washington, Oregon and Idaho as part of the ongoing incident in the Pacific flyway.

State officials quarantined the affected premises and the remaining birds on the property will be depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease. Birds from the involved flock will not enter the food system.

“Over the years, Louisiana has increased its surveillance of poultry in the state. We are currently enforcing all Louisiana Board of Animal Health entry regulations and enhanced poultry entry restrictions will be announced. Currently, we do not have avian influenza in Louisiana; however, we must make commercial producers and backyard poultry enthusiasts aware that the USDA has detected the highly pathogenic avian influenza in the U.S.,” said Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M.

Louisiana has a surveillance program in conjunction with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to test birds in wildlife preserves. Testing of backyard poultry growers’ flocks is also conducted. The LDAF also provides educational information for commercial growers to reinforce the practice of biosecurity measures and to report any spikes in sick birds or decrease in egg laying.

CDC considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections in wild birds, backyard flocks, and commercial poultry, to be low. No human infections with these viruses have been detected at this time. The Minnesota Department of Health is working directly with poultry workers at the affected facility to ensure they are taking the proper precautions.  As a reminder, poultry should be handled properly and the cooking of poultry and eggs should be at a temperature of at least 165 ˚F which kills bacteria and viruses.

The United States has the strongest AI surveillance program in the world, and the USDA is working with its partners to actively look for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets, and in migratory wild bird populations.

These virus strains can travel in wild birds without them appearing sick.  People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.

All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard poultry enthusiasts, should continue to practice good biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and to report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to state/federal officials, either through your state veterinarian or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.  Additional information on biosecurity for backyard flocks can be found at