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Avian flu cases remaining low

Avian influenza created nationwide headlines when it infected a goat in Stevens County, the first known case of the virus in livestock in the United States.
Since then, it has been found in dairy cattle and remnants of the virus have been found in pasteurized milk, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said. However, it adds that what it found in the milk did not represent the actual virus.
“To date, we have seen nothing that would change our assessment that the commercial milk supply is safe,” the FDA said.
For the past month news about the virus has been relatively quiet. However, Minnesota confirmed another case in a commercial turkey flock May 2 resulting in the culling of 8,475 commercial breeder turkeys in Dodge County west of Rochester.
Minnesota’s first case of avian flu for 2024 involved a backyard flock with 14 birds in Sherburne County northwest of the Twin Cities. In February, a backyard flock of 23 birds in Stevens county was infected and in March a backyard flock of 77 birds was infected.
Minnesota’s largest loss to the avian flu virus came in April with the loss of 68,617 turkeys in Clay County, which includes Moorhead.
Swift County, which saw significant losses to the avian flu in 2015 and 2022, saw its one and only avian influenza case of 2023 Nov. 20 when the Minnesota Board of Animal Health confirmed a turkey flock infected with the loss of 134,349 birds. It was the single largest loss at a single Minnesota turkey facility in 2023.
In 2022, Swift County lost 369,258 turkeys at five different sites and 16 fowl in a backyard flock.
Swift County’s worst year for avian flu losses was in 2015 with 632,000 turkeys lost. The county ranked third in the state for turkey losses behind Meeker with 694,200 and Kandiyohi with 1,541,000 that year.
There are several steps involved in confirming a poultry flock is positive for a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza, the Board of Animal Health says. Here is the process:
- A poultry producer or backyard flock owner notices unexplained death loss or other signs of illness in flock and a veterinarian or animal health official is notified.

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