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Posts Tagged ‘Sonstegard Foods Co’

‘Unprecedented’ Flu Outbreak Baffles Scientists

Posted by feww on April 22, 2015

Millions of birds killed as AI spreads across 15 states

This is so unusual that we can’t help but think something different must be going on —avian medicine expert

A lethal strain of avian influenza (AI) has been detected at an egg-laying facility in NW Iowa, the top U.S. egg-producing state, forcing the health authorities to destroy millions of laying hens, according to USDA.

Iowa has a $2 billion egg-laying industry with about 50 million hens that supply 1 in every 5 eggs consumed across the U.S.

The latest outbreak has occurred at an egg production facility with at least 3.8 million laying hens in Osceola County, which has been placed under quarantine. The quarantine covers an area of about 10km (6 miles)  around the farm, a division of Sonstegard Foods Co., based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The outbreak has also prompted Wisconsin to declare a state of emergency after three poultry flocks became infected in the past week.

There are now 15 states with infected birds: Arkansas, California, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

As of Monday, at least 2.6 million birds had been killed.

The strain has also led to the deaths of at least 2.4 million turkeys nationwide (birds either killed by the disease or by authorities working to prevent the spread of virus).

“Authorities have confirmed N5N2 outbreaks at more than 30 commercial poultry farms in the Midwest, including 22 in Minnesota. All were turkey operations except for one chicken farm in Wisconsin,” said a report.

“Minnesota, the nation’s largest turkey producer, is the epicenter of the highly pathogenic H5N2 bird flu. The state annually produces about 46 million turkeys, meaning 4 to 5 percent of Minnesota’s annual production has now been affected by the flu,” said a report.

The virus can kill an entire flock within 48 hours, experts say.

AI spread from Asia to the Netherlands, Germany and Great Britain into the North American poultry farms.

Rapid spread of the virus has alarmed scientists who have so far been unable to unravel the mystery of how the deadly virus have infected so many turkey farms in such a short period of time, said a report.

“It’s been really troubling to understand how in the world this can possibly be happening,” said Carol Cardona, a professor of avian medicine at the University of Minnesota.

“This is so unusual that we can’t help but think something different must be going on,” she said.

“Since December 2014, the United States Department of Agriculture has confirmed several cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 in the Pacific, Central, and Mississippi flyways (or migratory bird paths). The disease has been found in wild birds, as well as in a few backyard and commercial poultry flocks,” said USDA

“The H5N8 virus originated in Asia and spread rapidly along wild bird migratory pathways during 2014, including the Pacific flyway.  In the Pacific flyway, the H5N8 virus has mixed with North American avian influenza viruses, creating new mixed-origin viruses.  This is not unexpected.  These mixed-origin viruses contain the Asian-origin H5 part of the virus, which is highly pathogenic to poultry.  The N parts of these viruses came from North American low pathogenic avian influenza viruses.”

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