ELLENDALE, N.D. – After the owner of a 40,000 turkey flock in southeast North Dakota reported an increased death rate among his birds, it has been confirmed that the state has its first case of H5 avian influenza.

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The State Board of Animal Health was first notified that samples from a commercial turkey flock  in Dickey County along the South Dakota border was  tested by the NDSU Veterinary Diagnostic Lab and presumed positive for bird flu.  Samples then sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, confirmed the diagnosis.

“There is no immediate public health concern due to this finding. The risk to people from H5 avian influenza infections is low despite the disease often being fatal for birds,” North Dakota state epidemiologist Tracy Miller said. No human infections with these viruses have been detected in the U.S.

The turkey farm near Ellendale has been quarantined and the birds will be killed. Birds from the flock will not enter the food system.

Avian influenza exists naturally in many wild birds and can be transmitted by contact with infected birds or ingestion of infected food and water.

“It is in a producer’s best interest to keep their birds away from wetland areas where waterfowl and other wild birds can congregate and to control access to their buildings,” said North Dakota State Veterinarian Susan Keller in a release.