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Bird flu spreads in northern Plains, Minnesota hit again

For the first time this year, officials identified highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in domestic flocks in Montana and Colorado.

With the discoveries, bird flu has been found in 25 states, from Maine and North Carolina to Texas and Wyoming since early February and at 159 sites totaling 24.65 million birds, mostly chickens and turkeys, according to USDA data.

“High path” bird flu was confirmed in two backyard flocks in Judith Basin and Cascade counties in central Montana and in a backyard flock in Pitkin County in mountainous western Colorado. Aspen is the largest city in Pitken County.

Meanwhile, the USDA reported outbreaks on two turkey farms holding 96,131 turkeys in Kandiyohi and Renville counties in Minnesota, boosting losses in the No. 1 turkey-growing state to 1.26 million turkeys. South Dakota has lost 1.28 million turkeys, the most in the nation.

The Indiana Board of Animal Health said a commercial flock of 4,679 ducks in Elkhart County in northern Indiana and bordering Michigan “has tested presumptive-positive for the H5N1 avian influenza virus.”

The HPAI outbreaks are the worst since an epidemic in 2014-15 killed more than 50 million birds, including 12% of the egg-laying hens in the country. During the epidemic, bird flu was confirmed in 211 commercial flocks and 21 backyard flocks. A USDA database says 54 of this year’s 159 outbreaks were in backyard flocks.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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