USDA team coming to Minnesota to help contain bird flu

A federal emergency response team from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is coming to Minnesota to help support efforts to contain a bird flu outbreak in three poultry flocks.

Gov. Tim Walz’s office said Monday that the USDA team will arrive Wednesday and stay for at least three weeks, supporting the state’s Agricultural Incident Management Team.

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The Minnesota Board of Animal Health on Saturday confirmed H5N1 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in poultry flocks in Mower and Meeker counties. Walz’s office also noted confirmed cases in Stearns County. They are the first confirmed cases of bird flu in Minnesota since 2015.

While H5N1 poses a low risk to humans and no human cases have been detected yet, the virus does pose a risk to the state’s turkey production. Minnesota is the top turkey producer in the country.

“Armed with years of preparation for this incident, our state’s Agricultural Incident Management Team is working quickly and decisively to respond to the cases of H5N1 in Minnesota,” Walz said in a statement. “Within hours of the first confirmed cases, our Board of Animal Health requested emergency support from the USDA. These federal partners will bring targeted expertise to contain this virus and ensure that our state’s poultry industry remains the strongest in the nation.”

The state and federal teams will work to quarantine the infected flocks, support infected-site response activities, conduct disease surveillance and coordinate logistics.