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Avian flu claims 44,000 turkeys

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Editor’s note: Associated Press writer Kia Farhang provided information for this story. The Swift County Monitor-News conducted the interview with Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture Dave Frederickson.
More than 44,000 turkeys at a Pope County turkey farm are dead after either succumbing to a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza or being euthanized by the state.
While the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the Board of Animal Health feel they have the H5N2 strain of the avian flu isolated, the damage to the turkey sales may have already been done.
More than 40 countries have banned poultry imports from Minnesota since the virus was discovered in Pope County last Thursday.
The H5N2 strain will have “a huge impact” on Minnesota’s turkey exports, said Steve Olson, executive director of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. About 6 million Minnesota turkeys are sent to international markets every year, roughly 13.5 percent of total production, according to the growers association. Those international exports add up to about $100 million annually.
Minnesota is the country’s largest turkey-producing state.
Photo: Turkey growers strictly limit access to barns to fight the spread of disease.

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