Return of Bird Flu

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After a lull of several months, bird flu has returned to the Midwest earlier than expected. The highly dangerous disease has been found in two commercial flocks of turkeys in western Minnesota and in a hobby flock in Indiana.

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health said that the HPAI disease, also called "bird flu," was found after a farm in Meeker County reported an increase in deaths over the weekend. The flock was put down to stop the disease from spreading. Later, the board said that a second flock in the county had tested positive Tuesday night.

They were the first cases of avian flu found in Minnesota since May 31, when a flock of chickens in Becker County was infected. Before this week, the last time the disease was found in the Midwest was on June 8, when a backyard flock tested positive.

Several cases have been found in western states in July and August, including California, where more than 425,000 chickens and turkeys had to be killed on six commercial farms in the past week. There have also been cases in Washington, Oregon, and Utah, plus a few in some eastern states.

The board's senior veterinarian, Dr. Shauna Voss, said, "This was found a bit sooner than we expected, but we have been preparing for a return of the avian influenza we dealt with this spring." "HPAI is here, and the first line of defence to keep your birds safe is biosecurity."

The Indiana State Board of Animal Health said on Tuesday that a small flock of chickens, ducks, and geese kept as pets in northern Indiana's Elkhart County tested positive, but a federal lab still needs to confirm this.

Since February, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) says that over 40 million birds, mostly commercial turkeys and chickens, have been lost in 414 flocks in 39 states across the country. This year, the disease has spread to 81 flocks in Minnesota. Because of this, nearly 2.7 million birds had to be killed.

Minnesota makes more turkeys than any other state each year.

This year's outbreak caused egg and meat prices to go up and killed a shocking number of wild birds, including bald eagles. Some zoos were also hurt by it. In June, it looked like it was getting better, but officials warned that it could get worse again this fall.

Usually, birds that fly long distances carry the disease. It rarely affects people, like farm workers, and the USDA keeps chickens from flocks that have it out of the food supply. In 2015, a widespread outbreak killed 50 million birds in 15 states and cost the federal government more than $1 billion.

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