This avian influenza does not pose a risk to the public, and there is no food safety concern for consumers, according to a news release from the Board of Animal Health.
This is not the same highly pathogenic avian influenza that caused a broad outbreak in the Midwest in 2015.
The H5 low pathogenic avian influenza causes a mild illness. Birds can overcome it, test negative and still go to market, Michael Crusan, communications director for the Board of Animal Health, said in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon.
With the highly pathogenic virus present in 2015, the illness spread widely and was more deadly, with birds dying in barns, Crusan said.
For now, only one operation is isolated, affecting 33,000 turkey toms, he said.
Finding the virus was the result of routine testing, and it shows the state’s program of premarket testing works, he said.
“Testing birds before they go to market is standard protocol for our poultry flocks in Minnesota because it verifies healthy birds are sent to market, and if disease is detected, we can hold the flock and work quickly with producers to address the disease,” State Veterinarian Dr. Beth Thompson said in the news release.
The state quarantined the flock Nov. 22 and continues to monitor and test that flock, as well as commercial poultry operations and individual backyard flocks within 10 kilometers, according to the release. The Board of Animal Health is working with federal, state and industry partners in its response.
The state’s response would be similar wherever the illness is found, whether in a commercial operation or in a small backyard flock, Crusan said.
For now, the state is testing and watching other flocks in the area. “It’s one farm, but we’re going to look no matter what,” he said. “Obviously we would update if we do find anything else.”
Poultry producers maintain strong biosecurity practices at their facilities to isolate their flocks from outside sources of infection. Biosecurity is an integral part of the way flocks are managed and can prevent the spread of disease.
Backyard flock owners should also practice strict biosecurity, including preventing exposure to wild birds and other types of poultry, according to the release. The Board has biosecurity resources available to assist producers with forming and implementing plans.