Spring fieldwork may have aided bird flu outbreak

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Winds gusting to 44 mph April 20, 2015, raced across fields in western Minnesota lifting soil into the air - some of that soil may have contained the avian influenza virus spreading it to turkey and chicken barns.
Workers foam a turkey barn last spring to euthanize diseased birds.

April and May saw very strong winds while farmers worked their fields

Editor’s note: Information for this story is from Minnesota Public Radio and the Swift County Monitor-News.

Farmers who actively tilled fields near turkey barns in the early days of Minnesota’s avian influenza outbreak last year may have unwittingly helped spread the virus, a new University of Minnesota study says.

Soil in those fields may have been contaminated with droppings from migrating birds believed to be a source of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI.) The virus can survive cold temperatures in soil and tilling may have created “airborne particles that could carry the virus,” the university’s Center for Animal Health and Food Safety said in the report posted Thursday.

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