WASHINGTON, April 28, 2015 -- Health officials today confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza in two wild birds in McCracken County, Kentucky, a day after five outbreaks were reported at commercial poultry farms in Iowa. A new outbreak of the H5N2 strain was also confirmed in a flock of 27,000 turkeys in Stearns County, Minnesota, the biggest turkey producing state.
Four of Iowa’s latest cases were reported in newly affected counties – two egg-laying operations in O’Brien County, one laying facility and a turkey farm in Sioux – with a fifth case found in Osceola (the county’s second outbreak) on a pullet farm raising layer chickens. All told, the operations were raising about 5.8 million birds, all of which are being euthanized to slow the spread of the virus. Combined with previous outbreaks, Iowa will be depopulating almost 10 million chickens and turkeys.
Iowa Agriculture Department officials have not confirmed the subtype of avian flu in the latest cases, but said the results will likely be positive for the H5N2 strain; the most common variant of bird flu found in the U.S. since December.
Today’s confirmation of a new case in Minnesota means that about 3.4 million birds have been affected in the state, almost all of them turkeys.
The USDA has been lending a hand to poultry farmers through its indemnity fund, which will pay up to 100 percent of the purchase price and the cost of disposal of poultry required to be destroyed, either due to contamination or exposure to highly pathogenic avian flu. Since December, the agency has paid out $60 million to poultry farmers.