Minnesota Hit with Major Bird Flu Outbreak as Thanksgiving Approaches

In the Spotlight

David Lindfield
October 13, 2023

From Slay News

Minnesota has been hit with a devastating bird flu outbreak as the state prepares to provide much of the nation with turkeys for Thanksgiving.

On Wednesday, officials announced Minnesota’s first major outbreak of bird flu in 2023.

Minnesota is America’s largest producer of turkeys.

State officials said Wednesday that a flock of 140,000 turkeys was killed at a Meeker County farm.

The cull was commenced to mitigate the further spread of the highly pathogenic avian influenza(HPAI), according to the Star Tribune.

HPAI, or bird flu, has seen a terrifying level of spread around the globe in the last few years.

Some 58 million birds were killed in 2022 thanks to ongoing outbreaks of the virus, the Tribune notes.

State veterinarian Dr. Brian Hoefs said turkey farmers are repeatedly battling bird flu outbreaks in Minnesota.

According to Dr. Hoefs, the most recent outbreak is the largest to hit the state all year.

“Unfortunately, HPAI seems to keep popping up during the seasonal migrations in Minnesota,” Hoefs said.

The outbreak and the resulting cull are causing concerns that turkey supplies and prices will be impacted in the run-up to Thanksgiving.

People are being urged to buy turkeys earlier to avoid disappointment.

Minnesota lost more than 4 million birds, mostly turkeys, to bird flu last year, according to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health.

Willmar-based Jennie-O Turkey Store and its suppliers were hit especially hard last year.

“It is, unfortunately, a global animal disease and we’re going to have to continue to manage it the very best we can,” Jennie-O President Steve Lykken said last month following an event at the company’s Montevideo operation.

“Biosecurity for us is tantamount in everything we do.”

There are at least 18 known subtypes of influenza viruses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Many are continuing to spread out of control.

The rapid spread has led to some nations calling for the full vaccination of all poultry, according to MedicalXpress.

In April, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that at least one person had died after contracting H3N8 in China.

A study published back in May found that the H5N1 variant has undergone a “rapid evolution” since first being identified in 1996.

Multiple international agencies issued a warning in July about how quickly H5N1 is spreading.

The warnings suggest that it could be a risk to humans if it carries on as is.

In Chile, some 9,000 sea lions, penguins, otters, porpoises, and dolphins have reportedly died of bird flu since the start of 2023, MedicalXpress notes.

However, this figure has been called into question.

READ MORE: 8-Year-Old ‘Vaccine Poster Child’ Dies after Sudden Heart Attack

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