WASHINGTON, April 13, 2015 – A highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza (HPAI) has now been found in 11 states following USDA confirmation of a case in Wisconsin. It’s also the first time the H5N2 strain has been found in a commercial chicken flock.

The disease was first spotted in Oregon in January and has since spread halfway across the country, traveling as far as Arkansas in the South and now Wisconsin in the North. It first jumped from the Pacific Northwest to the Mississippi flyway in March, when a strain of the disease was confirmed at a commercial turkey operation in Minnesota’s Pope county.

The latest detection was also the first detection of the H5N2 variety in a commercial chicken flock. Previous detections of the disease in neighboring Minnesota – the nation’s biggest turkey producer – were more commonly seen in commercial turkey flocks. The 200,000-bird chicken flock was experiencing “increased mortality,” USDA said, and tests at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, confirmed the finding.

According to an APHIS release, state officials quarantined the premises and will depopulate the flock to prevent the spread of the disease. Birds from the flock will not enter the food system, USDA said.

Aside from the 11 states with confirmed H5N2 detections, a separate strain of H5N8 was detected in California in December, giving the U.S. 12 states with some form of high-path avian influenza. As of today, there have been 34 cases of avian flu detected in the U.S., and Minnesota has the most number of cases in one state with 14.

The Centers for Disease Control considers HPAI H5 infection risk to people to be low. No human infections have been detected at this time.


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