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  • Writer's pictureWCMP

Minnesota Board of Animal Health Puts Hold on Poultry Sales due to Spread of Avian Flu

Poultry sales and exhibitions in Minnesota have been put on hold for the month of April by the Minnesota Board of Animal Health (BAH) following confirmed cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).


According to the BAH, the ban includes all live poultry community sales, swaps, fairs, exhibitions, and other events where live poultry and susceptible birds are brought together.


“Viruses like HPAI need hosts to continue to spread,” said State Veterinarian, Dr. Beth Thompson. “It’s our job to stop the spread of disease. Unfortunately, in this situation, we feel one of the best things we can do for the health of all birds in Minnesota is to take a pause on poultry events through May 1.”


The first cases of HPAI in Minnesota were detected on March 26, with counties in the central and western parts of the state currently being affected the most.


Avian influenza was first found in the United States around 1878 but was considered "low risk". According to the University of Minnesota, it was not until 2014-2015 that it became "high risk" or highly contagious and caused a large number of bird deaths.


U of M Extention Educator for Pine and Isanti Counties Katie Hagen says this is also the first time that wild birds have died due to HPAI.


Hagen says she expects this to mainly affect the southwestern part of the state since that is where a lot of the commercial poultry production is located; however, it has been known to travel.


"There are a few things that you can do to prevent it (HPAI)," Hagen told WCMP. "Avoid attracting wild birds and waterfowl to your home - songbirds, sparrows, and starlings are low risk but any bird can carry the disease."


Hagen also recommended covering or closing outdoor feeders and taking other preventative steps like using clean hands and wearing clean shoes when working with your poultry.


The biggest symptom of HPAI is the sudden death of more than one bird in a flock. The disease is able to move quickly and has been reported to kill whole flocks in less than 24 hours. Other symptoms can include decreased water and feed consumption, decreased egg production, respiratory issues (gasping, sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge), watery and yellow/green diarrhea, swelling or discoloration of feet and waddles, and ruffled feathers.


The MN Board of Animal Health asks those who see signs of HPAI to contact their hotline at 1-833-454-0156 or visit www.bah.state.mn.us/hpai. If you are seeing sudden death as well as the more mild signs and symptoms in your flock you can contact the Minnesota Board of Animal Health Poultry Testing Lab at 1-320-231-5170.




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