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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2015 8:51 am 
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2015 4:29 pm 
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Wild bird testing shows no signs yet of avian flu

Health Mark Steil · Apr 29, 2015
LISTEN Story audio
4min

A scientist swabbed a goose fecal sample. Jackson Forderer for MPR News
Updated: 6:22 p.m. | Posted: 3:09 p.m.

The mystery behind widespread avian flu infections in poultry flocks in Minnesota and elsewhere continues to deepen.

Minnesota officials on Wednesday announced eight additional avian flu outbreaks and three additional suspected cases that they have categorized as "presumptive positive."

The latest report includes the first in Steele County and the state's second outbreak affecting chickens.

State Department of Natural Resources officials say more than 2,200 tests of waterfowl fecal matter found in the wild in Minnesota yielded no findings of H5N2 influenza virus. But scientists say that is not necessarily a surprise.

Another 500 or so samples from ducks and geese await testing.

• Related: DNR may test waterfowl blood for bird flu

"With our surveillance strategy of getting 3,000 samples from around the state, it looks like we're down to the last 250," said Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager with the DNR. "We should be done probably by the end of the week for sure."

Across Minnesota, DNR workers have been collecting samples of duck and goose droppings to test for the virus. Scientists suspect waterfowl have brought the H5N2 virus into the state. But Cornicelli said not one of 2,216 samples have tested positive for the virus that's so deadly to poultry.

"Not yet, no," he said. "We're still waiting on a bunch more pending samples. So we can't say for sure what might happen in the future."

Zero findings might come as a surprise because scientists say there's a high degree of certainty that waterfowl brought the disease into the state.

In Minnesota, 67 flocks are either confirmed or presumed infected. More than three million birds have been lost, costing farmers millions of dollars. But why the virus is so far not turning up in duck and geese samples is just one of the mysteries connected to the influenza outbreak.

"I'm scratching my head about it a lot, actually," said David Stallknecht, a wildlife disease professor at the University of Georgia.

Stallknecht attributes most of the mystery about the avian flu outbreak to the newness of the disease and said this is the first time a Eurasian highly pathogenic avian flu virus has made it to North America. He said the virus may not exhibit the same types of behaviors associated with other flu bugs already in the United States.

Waterfowl can carry any of more than 100 different influenza viruses. As a general rule, scientists figure that 1 percent or less of all waterfowl carry one of those viruses.

But Stallknecht said they simply don't know enough about the deadly H5N2 virus to know the infection rate in waterfowl. The 1-percent rule may not apply.

"It may be nowhere close to accurate," he said. "We just really don't know."

That puts the failure to find the virus in more than 2,000 Minnesota samples in a different light. If the 1-percent rule held, scientists might expect to find the current strain in about 20 samples. But if only a tenth of one percent of all waterfowl carry the disease, than the expected finding might be only two birds.

At that ratio it makes much more sense that the virus could so far escape detection, researchers say. With millions of ducks and geese passing through the state each spring, even a small infection rate would produce a lot of waterfowl carrying the disease.

Stallknecht said the evidence is still very strong that waterfowl are spreading the disease, since scientists have found the virus in dozens of samples from other regions of the country. He said the scientific detective work is likely to find that the virus makes it into poultry barns in more than one way. He said ducks and geese may have directly caused infections in some cases.

For example, wind may pick up fecal material and carry it directly into barns. But in other cases, people likely are involved.

"In the past, a lot of these outbreaks have spread from farm to farm with people, with equipment," Stallknecht said. There may be other routes of transmission that takes it directly from farm to farm that excludes wild birds."

Stay Informed
The news on your schedule from MPR News Update

http://www.mprnews.org/story/2015/04/29/avian-flu-tests

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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2015 12:58 pm 
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Published Date: 2015-05-01 12:15:34
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Avian influenza (102): USA, HPAI H5N2, poultry, turkey
Archive Number: 20150501.3332390
AVIAN INFLUENZA (102): USA, HPAI H5N2, POULTRY, TURKEY
******************************************************
A ProMED-mail post
http://www.promedmail.org
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
http://www.isid.org

In this posting:
[1] USDA update on findings
[2] Minnesota
[3] Wisconsin
[4], [5] Iowa
[6] Kentucky, Iowa, Minnesota

******
[1] USDA update on findings
Date: Tue 28 Apr 2015
Source: US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) [edited]
http://1.usa.gov/1HYgrVp


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. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections to be low. No human cases of these HPAI H5 viruses have been detected in the United States, Canada, or internationally.

Update on avian influenza findings

Poultry findings confirmed by USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories [since 23 Apr 2015; see previous findings in ProMED-mail archive no 20150424.3319118]
----------------------------------------------------------------------
State / County / Flyway / Flock type / Species / Avian influenza subtype* / Confirmation date / Flock size
Wisconsin / Chippewa / Mississippi / Commercial / Turkeys / EA/AM-H5N2 / 23-Apr-15
Minnesota / Clay / Mississippi / Commercial / Chickens / EA/AM-H5N2 / 23-Apr-15
Minnesota / Kandiyohi / Mississippi / Commercial / Turkeys / EA/AM-H5N2 / 23-Apr-15
Minnesota / Kandiyohi / Mississippi / Commercial / Turkeys / EA/AM-H5N2 / 23-Apr-15

* References to EA and AM under avian influenza subtype indicate Eurasian and American strains of the virus.

--
Communicated by:
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[A map of the North American migration flyways can be seen at https://www.metabunk.org/attachments/no ... -jpg.6673/. - Sr.Tech.Ed.MJ]

******
[2] Minnesota
Date: Mon 27 Apr 2015
Source: CIDRAP (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy) News [edited]
http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspect ... -minnesota


Although officials believe the H5N2 virus was brought to the Midwest by wild birds, a wide-ranging sampling program in Minnesota has failed to find any wild birds infected with highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) so far, according to Michelle Carstensen, PhD, wildlife health program supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The DNR has been collecting fecal samples from waterfowl within 10 kilometers [about 6.2 miles] of outbreak sites in 5 counties, aiming to gather enough to provide 95 percent confidence of finding the virus if present in 1 percent of birds. For control sampling, the agency is also collecting similar numbers at wildlife management areas that are not close to any outbreaks.

Carstensen reported on 25 Apr 2015 that the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) has submitted 2314 fecal samples for testing, including 1740 from waterfowl in areas near infected farms and 574 from control sites. Test results on 915 of these revealed no HPAI viruses and just 7 low-pathogenic viruses, she said.

The DNR also has submitted samples from 21 wild birds that were found dead or sick, including raptors, wild turkeys, and other species, she reported. 8 results have come back, and all were negative for HPAI.

Testing of samples from hunter-killed wild turkeys is just beginning, Carstensen said. A 1st batch of 18 samples was submitted for testing 23 Apr 2105 and more will be submitted this week.

Preliminary testing is done by the USDA's National Wildlife Disease Laboratory in Ft Collins, Colorado, according to the DNR's surveillance plan. Any samples that are positive for H5 or H7 viruses then go to the USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, for confirmation and further typing.

--
Communicated by:
ProMED-mail
<promed@promedmail.org>

[The state of Minnesota can be located on the HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map at http://healthmap.org/promed/p/354. A county map can be seen at http://geology.com/county-map/minnesota-county-map.gif. - Sr.Tech.Ed.MJ]

******
[3] Wisconsin
Date: Tue 28 Apr 2015
Source: Channel3000.com [edited]
http://www.channel3000.com/news/seventh ... e/32622244


A 7th case of the deadly bird flu virus has been detected in Wisconsin.

The latest case as reported [Tue 28 Apr 2015] by the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is in a 108 000 turkey flock in Barron County. That is the 3rd reported case in Barron County.

All 7 cases have been reported over a 15-day period beginning on 13 Apr 2015. About 1.3 million birds are affected.

There are 2 outbreaks in Jefferson County, and one each in Chippewa and Juneau counties.

The virus is lethal to birds, but is not expected to be a risk to people or the food supply.

A ban on poultry movement to shows, exhibitions, and swap meets in the 4 affected counties remains in effect.

--
Communicated by:
ProMED-mail from HealthMap Alerts
<promed@promedmail.org>

[The state of Wisconsin can be located on the HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map at http://healthmap.org/promed/p/250. A county map can be seen at http://geology.com/county-map/wisconsin-county-map.gif. - Sr.Tech.Ed.MJ]

******
[4] Iowa
Date: Mon 27 Apr 2015
Source: Omaha.com, Associated Press (AP) report [edited]
http://www.omaha.com/money/bird-flu-fou ... a23fe.html


The deadly bird flu virus was found in an egg-laying flock with 3.7 million chickens in northwest Iowa in addition to 4 more poultry farms, state agriculture officials said [Mon 27 Apr 2015].

The virus will now cost Iowa egg producers about 1/6 of the state's 60 million hens, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said, or nearly 9.8 million chickens that have either been or will be euthanized.

Initial tests indicated the presence of the H5N2 virus on the large farm in Sioux County. The other probable cases, affecting more than 2 million chickens combined, are at 2 farms in O'Brien County, one in Osceola County, and another in Sioux County.

Final confirmation is expected later [Mon 27 Apr 2015] or [Tue 28 Apr 2015] on the latest farms, Northey said.

Iowa is the nation's leading egg producer and has seen a rapid increase in the number of chickens affected by the virus since the 1st case was announced a week ago. The virus has also been found on 2 Iowa turkey farms involving 80 000 birds.

Nationally, the H5N2 virus has cost Midwestern turkey and chicken producers almost 13 million birds since early March [2015].

The impact on consumer egg and turkey prices depends on how much more the virus spreads, according to Dr TJ Myers, a veterinary administrator with the US Department of Agriculture. So far, nearly 7 million turkeys have been culled out of a total US turkey population of 240 million.

"I don't think it's to the point yet where there's a huge market impact. The real question is what comes later this week, next week, and the following week," he said.

The virus typically dies in the warmth of spring and summer, and the Midwest is approaching the season where temperatures in the 1970s and more ultraviolet rays should halt the virus.

The federal government has an indemnity fund that pays turkey and chicken producers for the birds that remain alive on the farm but must be killed to eliminate the risk of spreading the disease. The fund also helps farms compost the birds and clean up the farm so it can be used again.

So far, the government has spent USD 60 million, Myers said.

The Iowa counties involved are concentrated in the northwest corner of Iowa but so far officials say they do not believe the virus is traveling from farm to farm.

Here are some questions and answers about how wild birds remain healthy even when carrying the virus and spread it to backyard and commercial flocks of chickens and turkeys.

How did the virus arrive stateside?
Disease experts believe a portion of it came from European and Asian strains of bird flu that readily cause illness and death in birds and mixed with a North American strain that was less likely to cause severe illness as birds from different regions crossed migratory paths.

The US Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Geological Survey have reported 3 versions of bird flu in 57 cases confirmed since December [2014], starting 1st with domestic backyard flocks, wild captive birds and wild aquatic birds in California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Additional cases surfaced in January and February [2015] on the West Coast, and by March [2015], cases emerged in the Midwest.

Which wild birds carry the virus?
Bird flu has been found in more than 100 species of wild birds, but most are low pathogenic viruses -- present, but don't sicken or kill it. The virus can be left behind in wild birds' feces, on feathers and on the bodies of dead birds. Birds confirmed to have carried the virus currently spreading infection in the United States include ducks, Canada geese, and predatory birds.

How does the virus get into commercial barns?
USDA Chief Veterinary Officer Dr John Clifford has said it's not entirely clear how the virus gets into commercial barns, which are mostly enclosed, but there are likely several ways. In some cases, the virus may enter on clothing or shoes of workers, although commercial operations have strict biosecurity guidelines for changing clothes and disinfecting items. Clifford also speculates wind could be carrying the virus in on dirt particles or feathers through barn ventilation openings. Officials are exploring all possibilities in an effort to identify and eliminate identified pathways, Clifford said.

Is it the 1st outbreak in the US?
It's the 1st widespread one that's affected millions of commercially raised chickens and turkeys, but there have been sporadic cases of low pathogenic versions before. In 2004, an outbreak of H5N2 was found in a flock of 7000 chickens in Texas, marking the 1st outbreak of a high pathogenic strain in 20 years, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

What do the numbers and letters mean when identifying virus strains?
The numbers specify proteins on the flu virus surface. One set has a long scientific name starting with an H numbering 1-16 and the other has a long name starting with an N and number 1-9. The protein mixture determines whether the virus can attach only to bird cells, infect other animals or attach to human cells. In all, there are 144 ways the proteins can mix to create different versions of the bird flu, ranging from H1N1 to H16N9.

Could bird flu sicken Americans?
There have been no confirmed cases of illness in humans associated with the current H5N2 bird flu virus, leading scientists to believe it cannot easily attach to human cells. There is an increased chance of human infection, the CDC says, because bird flu viruses have been known to mutate into versions that can jump to humans.

What can I do to avoid the bird flu?
The CDC recommends observing wild birds only from a distance and avoiding contact with surfaces that appear to be contaminated with bird feces. Also, avoid contact with domestic poultry that appear ill or have died and properly handle and cook poultry products.

--
Communicated by:
ProMED-mail
<promed@promedmail.org>

[The state of Iowa can be located on the HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map at http://healthmap.org/promed/p/218. A county map can be seen at http://geology.com/county-map/iowa-county-map.gif. - Sr.Tech.Ed.MJ]

******
[5] Iowa
Date: Mon 27 Apr 2015
Source: Live Mint [edited]
http://www.livemint.com/Politics/zEALQC ... -says.html


Flocks housing as much as 16 percent of egg-laying chickens in Iowa, the biggest US egg producer, may be infected with the bird flu sweeping through US poultry farms.

Flocks with some 9.5 million egg-layers are confirmed positive for the virus or are presumed to have it, Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, said on a conference call with reporters on [Mon 27 Apr 2015]. The state has 59.5 million layers, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

With millions of birds ravaged by the disease this year, US farms are stepping up clean up efforts and Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton declared a state of emergency.

At stake is the roughly USD 44 billion made from poultry and eggs produced in the US, the latest government figures show. The outbreak, the worst in 3 decades, has prompted poultry buyers from Europe to Asia to place restrictions on American shipments.

Avian flu has been found primarily in commercial turkey flocks, particularly in Minnesota, where abundant waterways attract wild geese and ducks, suspected of carrying the disease. Egg-laying hens in neighboring Wisconsin have also been infected.

Highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza was confirmed in 6 more flocks in Iowa, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, the USDA said in a statement Monday.

[Byline: Megan Durisin, Lydia Mulvany]

--
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<promed@promedmail.org>

******
[6] Kentucky, Iowa, Minnesota
Date: Tue 28 Apr 2015
Source: Agri-Pulse [edited]
http://www.agri-pulse.com/New-avian-flu ... 282015.asp


Health officials today [28 Apr 2015] confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza in 2 wild birds in McCracken County, Kentucky, a day after 5 outbreaks were reported at commercial poultry farms in Iowa. A new outbreak of the H5N2 strain was also confirmed in a flock of 27 000 turkeys in Stearns County, Minnesota, the biggest turkey producing state.

Four of Iowa's latest cases were reported in newly affected counties -- 2 egg-laying operations in O'Brien County, one laying facility and a turkey farm in Sioux -- with a 5th case found in Osceola (the county's 2nd outbreak) on a pullet farm raising layer chickens. All told, the operations were raising about 5.8 million birds, all of which are being euthanized to slow the spread of the virus. Combined with previous outbreaks, Iowa will be depopulating almost 10 million chickens and turkeys.

Iowa Agriculture Department officials have not confirmed the subtype of avian flu in the latest cases, but said the results will likely be positive for the H5N2 strain; the most common variant of bird flu found in the U.S. since December [2014].

Today's [28 Apr 2015] confirmation of a new case in Minnesota means that about 3.4 million birds have been affected in the state, almost all of them turkeys.

The USDA has been lending a hand to poultry farmers through its indemnity fund, which will pay up to 100 percent of the purchase price and the cost of disposal of poultry required to be destroyed, either due to contamination or exposure to highly pathogenic avian flu. Since December, the agency has paid out USD 60 million to poultry farmers.

--
Communicated by:
ProMED-mail from HealthMap Alerts
<promed@promedmail.org>

[The state of Kentucky can be located on the HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map at http://healthmap.org/promed/p/220. McCracken County in western Kentucky can be seen on the map at http://geology.com/county-map/kentucky-county-map.gif. - Sr.Tech.Ed.MJ

In ProMED-mail post 20150419.3307106, my comment was: "It may be helpful to look at a map to try and understand some flyways of wild birds http://f.tqn.com/y/birding/1/S/H/G/-/-/ ... lyways.jpg. Wild birds may well have brought the disease and may have started the cycle, but the current cycle seems to be maintaining itself and spreading through some other mechanism, and perhaps currently the spread is not by wild birds, but by some other mechanism."

According to the report from Minnesota (item 2 above), apparently it was not the wild birds in this particular area. So, what brought this virus with such a nasty punch to the heavily populated avian area? The wind? I am not inclined to believe it is solely responsible. A number of things come to mind, such as trucking it in feed, or litter disposal, or tracking by employees, or some on intestinally bringing it?

One thing is clear: this disease is on a rampage and is taking a toll on producers, government and consumers. Oh, and let's not forget the birds themselves. In addition to the producers losing their birds, they then must clean the houses in an unbelievably thorough fashion to attempt to avoid a disease that reached them in an as yet unidentified method. What a cost! And what a cost and likely shortage will be passed onto the consumer. - Mod.TG]
See Also
Avian influenza (100): USA (KY) H5N2, goose, duck 20150429.3331768
Avian influenza (97): USA (IA) HPAI H5N2, turkey 20150426.3323166
Avian influenza (96): USA, HPAI H5N2 20150424.3319118
Avian influenza (94): USA (IA) HPAI H5N2, poultry 20150423.3316416
Avian influenza (91): USA (MN,WI) HPAI H5N2, turkey : 20150422.3313679
Avian influenza (87): USA, HPAI H5N2, turkey, poultry 20150418.3305689
Avian influenza (86): USA (WI) HPAI H5N2, turkeys, poultry 20150417.3303404
Avian influenza (82): USA, HPAI, H5N2, poultry 20150416.3300808
Avian influenza (80): USA, HPAI H5N2, turkey, poultry 20150415.3298419
Avian influenza (76): USA (MN, SD) HPAI, H5N2, turkey 20150413.3293606
Avian influenza (74): USA (MN,ND) HPAI H5N2, turkey 20150412.3292191
Avian influenza (68): USA (MN,SD) HPAI H5N2, turkey 20150405.3277704
Avian influenza (67): USA (MT) HPAI H5N2, poultry 20150405.3277671
Avian influenza (64): USA (MT) HPAI H5N2, falcon 20150401.3271195
Avian influenza (63): USA (WY) HPAI H5N2, goose 20150331.3267533
Avian influenza (59): USA (MN): turkey, H5N2 20150329.3264089
Avian influenza (54): USA (CA) poultry, LPAI H7N3, OIE 20150319.3241143
Avian influenza (50): USA (AR) turkey, H5N2 20150313.3227033
Avian influenza (49): USA (MO) turkey, H5N2 20150312.3223765
Avian influenza (39): USA (OR) backyard flock 20150215.3167658
Avian influenza (38): USA (ID) 20150213.3161063
Avian influenza (34): USA (WA) hobby birds 20150204.3141350
Avian influenza (29): USA (WA) game birds 20150130.3132628
Avian influenza (17): USA (WA) wild duck, HPAI H5N1, OIE 20150122.3109001
Avian influenza (16): USA (WA, ID) HPAI H5N2, H5N8 20150121.3107002
Avian influenza (09): USA (UT) H5N8, wild duck 20150115.3094193
Avian influenza (08): USA (CA) HPAI H5N8, wild bird 20150115.3093306
Avian influenza (02): USA (WA) HPAI H5N2, backyard flock 20150110.3083028
Avian influenza (01): USA (WA) backyard poultry, HPAI H5N2, OIE 20150109.3082193
2014
----
Avian influenza (112): USA (WA) wild birds, HPAI H5N8, H5N2 20141218.3040607
Avian influenza (110): USA (WA) wild birds, HPAI H5N8, H5N2, OIE 20141217.3037995
Avian influenza (108): USA (WA) H5N2, H5N8, wild birds 20141217.3038018
Avian influenza (68): USA (NJ) poultry, LPAI, H7, OIE 20140829.2731960
Avian influenza (55): USA (CA) poultry, LPAI, H5 20140425.2428504
Avian influenza (54): USA (CA) poultry, LPAI, H5, OIE 20140423.2424661
2013
----
Avian influenza (71): USA (AR) poultry, LPAI H7N7 20130620.1782674
Avian influenza (04): USA (NY) H5 LPAI, poultry, RFI for N-type 20130115.1498109
2012
----
Avian influenza (13): USA (MA) LPAI, swan 20120208.1036521
Avian influenza (08): USA (MA) LPAI, swan 20120203.1031447
.................................................sb/tg/mj/je/mj/ml

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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2015 1:33 pm 
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Location: Pittsburgh, PA USA
Published Date: 2015-05-01 12:33:22
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Avian influenza (103): USA (MN,IA) HPAI H5N2, poultry, turkey
Archive Number: 20150501.3334848
AVIAN INFLUENZA (103): USA (MINNESOTA, IOWA) HPAI H5N2, POULTRY, TURKEY
***********************************************************************
A ProMED-mail post
http://www.promedmail.org
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
http://www.isid.org

In this posting:
[1], [2] Minnesota
[3], [4] Iowa

******
[1] Minnesota
Date: Thu 30 Apr 2015
Source: Faribault Daily News, Associated Press (AP) report [edited]
http://www.southernminn.com/faribault_d ... 8b351.html


A hawk in western Minnesota is the 1st wild bird in the state to test positive for the bird flu virus since the beginning of an outbreak that's killed more than 15 million birds in the Midwest this spring [2015], state wildlife officials announced [Thu 30 Apr 2015].

Officials have long said that wild birds could be spreading the flu, but warned that the positive test in the hawk doesn't prove wild birds are the direct cause of the recent infections.

"This bird tells us our surveillance is working, but it unfortunately doesn't provide many other clues about transmission of the virus," Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager for the Department of Natural Resources, said in a statement.

Scientists and industry officials have said the virus also may be reaching captive birds via the feet of humans and rodents, or is being carried in by trucks, equipment, crates, and egg flats.

Minnesota, the nation's largest turkey-producing state, has been hit hardest by the flu, with nearly 4 million birds killed by either the virus or euthanization. 19 counties have infected flocks.

The H5N2 virus was detected earlier this year [2015] in at least 3 snow geese in Missouri and a goose in Kansas, but Minnesota officials had tested nearly 3000 fecal samples from wild birds without finding the virus. They are also testing dead birds for the virus as well as hunter-harvested wild turkeys.

The Cooper's hawk died in mid-April [2015] after flying into the deck of a home in Yellow Medicine County [southwestern Minnesota], and was tested after the homeowner reported it. That county isn't among those that have had bird flu turn up in big poultry operations, but nearby Lyon County [southwestern Minnesota] is.

A Cooper's hawk in Washington State tested positive for the virus in January [2015]. Cornicelli said the hawks likely get it from something they eat.

The virus spreads quickly in confined flocks, but wild bird populations such as raptors and wild turkeys aren't as vulnerable because they are dispersed.

Separately [Thu 30 Apr 2015], the Minnesota Board of Animal Health released mortality numbers for 11 flocks found earlier this week to have the virus or presumed to have the virus. The flocks had a total of 515 000 birds, including 202 500 turkeys on a Stearns County [central Minnesota] farm.

--
Communicated by:
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<promed@promedmail.org>

[The state of Minnesota can be located on the HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map at http://healthmap.org/promed/p/354. A county map can be seen at http://geology.com/county-map/minnesota-county-map.gif. - Sr.Tech.Ed.MJ

The article above referring to a hawk, a wild bird I understand, although not perhaps a migrating bird, may contradict the previous ProMED-mail post (Avian influenza (102): USA, HPAI H5N2, poultry, turkey archive no 20150501.3332390), stating that no wild birds had been found to have the virus in Minnesota.

So while no wild migratory birds may have been found to have the virus, this virus is spreading in some fashion. Efforts to identify how it is spreading need identifying so it can be stopped. - Mod.TG]

******
[2] Minnesota
Date: Wed 29 Apr 2015
Source: Minnesota Department of Public Safety news release [edited]
https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ooc/news-r ... il-29.aspx


Daily update on avian influenza -- 29 Apr 2015
----------------------------------------------
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division (HSEM) activated the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) to coordinate the state's ongoing response to avian influenza. HSEM will coordinate resource needs with several state agencies including the Minnesota Board of Animal Health and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Additional HPAI cases in Minnesota
----------------------------------
The USDA today [29 Apr 2015] confirmed the presence of H5N2 HPAI in 8 additional flocks. The following counties are affected:
- Steele: 1st detection (turkeys, flock size pending)
- Kandiyohi: 20th, 21st, 22nd, and 23rd detections (turkeys, flock size pending)
- Stearns: 11th (turkeys, flock size pending) and 12th detections (layer chickens, flock size pending)
- Swift: 3rd detection (turkeys, flock size pending)

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health today [29 Apr 2015] announced 3 presumptive positive flocks.
The following Minnesota counties are affected.:
- Kandiyohi: 24th and 25th detections (turkeys)
- Meeker: 7th detection (72 400 turkeys)

Current situation
-----------------
Total number of farms: 67
Total number of counties: 19

Farms by County: Number of Flocks
Chippewa: 1
Clay: 1
Cottonwood: 2
Kandiyohi: 25
Lac Qui Parle: 1
Le Sueur: 1
Lyon: 1
Meeker: 7
Nobles: 1
Otter Tail: 2
Pipestone: 1
Pope: 1
Redwood: 4
Roseau: 1
Stearns: 12
Steele: 1
Swift: 3
Wadena: 1
Watonwan: 1

Total number of birds affected in Minnesota: 3 460 532 (not including pending flocks)

All affected farms remain under quarantine.

Visit the USDA's website [http://tinyurl.com/owsgy54] for information on all HPAI findings in the United States.

To date, animal health officials have completed the following response zone activities:
- Appraisals have been completed for 64 of the affected premises.
- Birds on 52 of the affected farms have been euthanized.
- The composting process is underway on 42 of the affected farms. Animal health officials are currently working with producers to begin composting on others.
- The affected farm in Pope County (1st detection in Minnesota) is done with composting and is working on cleaning and disinfection of the barns.

Identification and announcement of HPAI cases in Minnesota
----------------------------------------------------------
There are several steps involved in confirming that a poultry flock is positive for a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza. Here is an outline of that process which includes timing of public notification:
1. A poultry producer or backyard flock owner notices unusual death loss or other signs of illness in his/her birds.
2. The individual notifies their veterinarian or an animal health official.
3. Samples are collected from the birds on the premises.
4. Samples are submitted to an approved state laboratory for preliminary testing.
5. State laboratories are able to determine if the samples are positive for an H5 or H7 influenza virus. If samples are positive for an H5 or H7 virus, they are considered as presumptive positives and are forwarded to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa.
6. The Minnesota Board of Animal Health will include information on presumptive positive flocks on its website. These cases will also be shared through the State Emergency Operations Center Daily Updates on Avian Influenza.
7. NVSL is the only laboratory in the United States that is authorized to officially confirm the presence of a HPAI and identify the specific strain of virus. When NVSL confirms HPAI, the US Department of Agriculture [http://tinyurl.com/owsgy54] shares that information with the public by posting online.

National Guard completes mission
--------------------------------
The Minnesota National Guard completed its water delivery mission. Private contractors are now in place to provide water support for foaming operations on affected farms. The National Guard remains involved at the State emergency Operations Center and is available if their support is needed in the future.

Producers affected by H5N2 get more time to file and pay their taxes
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Poultry producers in Minnesota whose farms or flocks are affected by the H5N2 avian influenza will get help if the outbreak prevented them from filing their returns or paying their taxes on time, the Minnesota Department of Revenue announced today [29 Apr 2015].

The department will forgive penalties and interest for poultry producers in the affected counties who have Minnesota tax returns or payments due between 23 Apr and 27 May 2015, in line with the original emergency executive order and 30 day extension.

This only applies to Minnesota taxes. This does not apply to any local government or federal taxes.
If you are a poultry producer in the affected counties and the outbreak has prevented you from filing or paying your taxes, please contact us at 651-556-3003 or 1-800-657-3909

Behavioral Health Medical Reserve Corps
---------------------------------------
The Minnesota Department of Health has activated its Behavioral Health Medical Reserve Corps (BH-MRC) to help provide mental health resources for those Minnesotans impacted by avian influenza. MDH is working with regional public health preparedness contacts to assess specific community needs. The immediate focus is on the three most heavily impacted counties: Kandiyohi, Meeker and Stearns.

The BH-MRC is a statewide group of volunteer behavioral health specialists that supports individuals, communities, and the Incident Command System during disasters by providing expert behavioral health skills. The BH-MRC may be deployed during disasters that include but are not limited to natural disasters and public health emergencies. The group was last activated during the 2012 floods. More information is available on the MDH website at http://www.health.state.mn.us/oep/respo ... bhmrc.html.

Governor Dayton hosts turkey lunch for interns, promoting Minnesota-grown turkey
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Governor Mark Dayton hosted a Minnesota-grown turkey lunch at the Governor's Residence for interns who are working this spring [2014] in the Office of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor. The lunch featured a 25-pound [11.3 kg] turkey, which was raised in Glenwood, Minnesota. Minnesota is the nation's largest producer of turkeys, with 450 farmers raising approximately 46 million turkeys annually, and generating nearly USD 800 million in economic activity every year.

"As turkey farmers across our state deal with the devastating effects of avian influenza, it is more important than ever for all Minnesotans to support the Minnesota turkey industry," said Governor Dayton. "Our turkey growers need more than our help in stopping the spread of this disease; they need our full support as consumers to buy and eat good Minnesota turkey."

Minnesota [MN] Dept of Agriculture [MDA] outreach
-------------------------------------------------
MDA Liaisons have been actively contacting key agricultural stakeholder groups including MN Farm Bureau, MN Farmers Union, University of Minnesota Extension, County Executive Directors of USDA-Farm Service Agency, and leaders of 4-H, updating them on HPAI response and educating their contacts about effective biosecurity on and off the farm.

No public health risk
---------------------
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reports that no human infections with this strain of the virus (H5N2) have been detected in Minnesota or elsewhere in the US. However, in some cases certain HPAI H5 viruses can infect people and it is important to prevent infections.

In general, avian influenza viruses are spread to people through direct contact with infected birds or their environments, including contaminated bedding, feed, or water. Person-to-person spread of avian influenza viruses is rare and limited.

This is not a public health risk or a food safety risk. The potential risk is for those who have direct contact with infected birds.

Poultry workers
---------------
MDH is monitoring the health of workers, who have had contact with infected poultry, and providing guidance on infection control, the use of personal protective equipment, and providing support for any other health-related aspects of response.
- People who had close, unprotected contact with infected flocks are recommended to receive an antiviral drug called Tamiflu. MDH does not issue the drug directly. Rather, MDH facilitates getting the prescription for the workers by working with the company occupational health departments or the health care providers for those individuals.
- Workers are then contacted daily for 10 days and monitored for development of respiratory symptoms.
- As of today [29 Apr 2015], MDH has completed follow-up contacts for 51 flocks.
- MDH is currently monitoring 86 poultry personnel for potential symptoms of infection, such as development of an eye infection or respiratory symptoms.
- The MDH 10-day monitoring period has been completed for 83 people associated with 22 flocks; no infections with this virus were detected.

--
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******
[3] Iowa
Date: Wed 29 Apr 2015
Source: Mason City Globe Gazette, Associated Press (AP) report [edited]
http://globegazette.com/ap/state/more-i ... 5273d.html


State agriculture officials say the deadly bird flu virus is suspected on 2 more Iowa chicken farms and 2 more turkey operations.

Officials say initial tests indicate the virus on 2 turkey farms in Buena Vista County [northern Iowa]. One has 50 000 birds and the count on the other farm is still pending. A chicken farm in that county with 63 000 laying hens also tested positive.

Tests also returned positive on a chicken breeder farm with 19 000 birds in Kossuth County [northern Iowa].

A US Department of Agriculture laboratory in Ames will run additional tests to confirm.

That lab [Wed 29 Apr 2015] confirmed the virus on farms in Sioux, O'Brien, and Osceola counties [northwestern Iowa] with nearly 6 million chickens.

The new cases bring to 10 million the Iowa birds that have either been or will be euthanized.

--
Communicated by:
ProMED-mail
<promed@promedmail.org>

[The state of Iowa can be located on the HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map at http://healthmap.org/promed/p/218. A county map can be seen at http://geology.com/county-map/iowa-county-map.gif. - Sr.Tech.Ed.MJ]

******
[4] Iowa
Date: Wed 29 Apr 2015
Source: Mason City Globe Gazette, Associated Press (AP) report [edited]
http://globegazette.com/ap/state/chicke ... d9012.html


The deadly bird flu virus has been confirmed on northwest Iowa farms that had been identified earlier as possible cases by state officials.

A laboratory in Ames operated by the US Department of Agriculture has confirmed the H5N2 virus on a Sioux County farm with nearly 3.7 million egg-laying hens, 2 O'Brien County farms with a combined 338 000 hens, and an Osceola County farm with 258 000 chickens. An egg farm with 1.7 million chickens was confirmed late [Mon 27 Apr 2015].

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey had said [Mon 27 Apr 2015], the 5 farms were probable cases pending further tests.

The confirmed cases bring to about 9.8 million Iowa chickens that have either been or will be euthanized.

The virus has also been found on 2 Iowa turkey farms involving 80 000 birds.

--
Communicated by:
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<promed@promedmail.org>

[It is very sad that this virus continues to spread a rapidly as it does. It is disastrous to producers, disheartening to works, and expensive for all of us. - Mod.TG]
See Also
Avian influenza (102): USA, HPAI H5N2, poultry, turkey 20150501.3332390
Avian influenza (100): USA (KY) H5N2, goose, duck 20150429.3331768
Avian influenza (98): Canada (ON) HPAI H5N2, turkey 20150429.3329590
Avian influenza (97): USA (IA) HPAI H5N2, turkey 20150426.3323166
Avian influenza (96): USA, HPAI H5N2 20150424.3319118
Avian influenza (95): Canada (ON) poultry; HPAI H5N2 20150424.3319119
Avian influenza (94): USA (IA) HPAI H5N2, poultry 20150423.3316416
Avian influenza (91): USA (MN,WI) HPAI H5N2, turkey 20150422.3313679
Avian influenza (89): Canada (ON), poultry, HPAI H5N2 susp. 20150419.3308319
Avian influenza (89): USA (MN, SD) HPAI H5N2, turkey 20150419.3307106
Avian influenza (77): Canada (ON) HPAI H5N2, turkey 20150414.3295962
Avian influenza (76): USA (MN, SD) HPAI, H5N2, turkeys 20150413.3293606
Avian influenza (75): Canada (ON) HPAI H5N2, turkey 20150412.3292233
Avian influenza (74): USA (MN,ND) HPAI H5N2, turkey 20150412.3292191
Avian influenza (73): Canada (ON) HPAI H5N2, poultry, OIE 20150410.3288088
Avian influenza (71): Canada (ON) HPAI, H5N2, turkey 20150409.3285805
Avian influenza (63): USA (WY) HPAI H5N2, goose 20150331.3267533
Avian influenza (59): USA (MN): turkey, H5N2 20150329.3264089
Avian influenza (54): USA (CA) poultry, LPAI H7N3, OIE 20150319.3241143
Avian influenza (50): USA (AR) turkey, H5N2 20150313.3227033
Avian influenza (49): USA (MO) turkey, H5N2 20150312.3223765
Avian influenza (39): USA (OR) backyard flock 20150215.3167658
Avian influenza (38): USA (ID) 20150213.3161063
Avian influenza (34): USA (WA) hobby birds 20150204.3141350
Avian influenza (29): USA (WA) game birds 20150130.3132628
Avian influenza (17): USA (WA) wild duck, HPAI H5N1, OIE 20150122.3109001
Avian influenza (16): USA (WA, ID) HPAI H5N2, H5N8 20150121.3107002
Avian influenza (09): USA (UT) H5N8, wild duck 20150115.3094193
Avian influenza (08): USA (CA) HPAI H5N8, wild bird 20150115.3093306
Avian influenza (02): USA (WA) HPAI H5N2, backyard flock 20150110.3083028
Avian influenza (01): USA (WA) backyard poultry, HPAI H5N2, OIE 20150109.3082193
2014
----
Avian influenza (112): USA (WA) wild birds, HPAI H5N8, H5N2 20141218.3040607
Avian influenza (110): USA (WA) wild birds, HPAI H5N8, H5N2, OIE 20141217.3037995
Avian influenza (108): USA (WA) H5N2, H5N8, wild birds 20141217.3038018
Avian influenza (68): USA (NJ) poultry, LPAI, H7, OIE 20140829.2731960
Avian influenza (55): USA (CA) poultry, LPAI, H5 20140425.2428504
Avian influenza (54): USA (CA) poultry, LPAI, H5, OIE 20140423.2424661
2013
----
Avian influenza (71): USA (AR) poultry, LPAI H7N7 20130620.1782674
Avian influenza (04): USA (NY) H5 LPAI, poultry, RFI for N-type 20130115.1498109
2012
----
Avian influenza (13): USA (MA) LPAI, swan 20120208.1036521
Avian influenza (08): USA (MA) LPAI, swan 20120203.1031447
.................................................tg/mj/ml

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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2015 12:59 pm 
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State veterinarian broaches possibility that bird flu might spread farm to farm in Minnesota
By STEVE KARNOWSKI Associated Press MAY 6, 2015 — 4:54PM

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota's state veterinarian has broached the possibility that bird flu may be spreading from farm-to-farm in the state's top turkey-growing counties.

Experts downplayed that possibility in the early days of the outbreaks, which have cost Minnesota poultry producers more than 5.5 million birds. They said instead they suspected the virus was being carried by waterfowl that would spread it via their droppings, then tracked into barns by people.

State Veterinarian Bill Hartmann says there's still no confirmation of lateral spread. But he says industry veterinarians now suspect the virus may be spreading that way. He says there's still no hard evidence.

While farm-to-farm spread might explain why so many farms in Kandiyohi and Stearns counties have been affected, Hartmann says it might be because those counties have so many farms.

http://www.startribune.com/top-vet-bird ... 302821521/

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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2015 1:03 pm 
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Despite U.S. efforts, bird flu thought to spread between farms
Wed May 6, 2015 7:50pm EDT

By Tom Polansek

CHICAGO, May 6 (Reuters) - Poultry veterinarians in Minnesota believe an outbreak of avian flu has spread between farms, indicating the implementation of a U.S. strategy to contain the deadly bird disease failed in at least some cases.

Wild birds are thought to be carriers of the flu virus, which can be tracked onto poultry farms by people or trucks that come into contact with contaminated feces. It may also be carried into barns by wind blowing in contaminated dirt or dust.

U.S. and state officials had thought that quarantining infected farms and killing birds would prevent the virus from moving to neighboring farms.

However, veterinarians now think the disease was transmitted between farms, Bill Hartmann, executive director of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, told reporters on a conference call. He did not have more details.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which until now has focused on water fowl spreading the bird flu, is investigating "the potential transmission of virus between operations," a spokeswoman said. There are a number of ways the virus may be introduced to farms, she added.

Virulent H5 avian influenza strains have spread to 14 states in five months and affected about 26 million birds in the worst outbreak of the disease in U.S. history, according to the USDA.

In Minnesota, the biggest U.S. turkey producing state, delays in the killing of infected poultry flocks may have led to "a couple of cases" of the flu spreading from one farm to another, said Steve Olson, executive director of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association.

Delays could have kept the virus on infected farms for longer than desired, allowing the wind to blow contaminated particles to a nearby facility, he said.

Government officials hire workers to kill birds from infected flocks, and normally try to kill them within two to three days after infections are confirmed, Olson said.

Minnesota was "a few days behind at some point" on culling infected flocks, but has since caught up, he said.

Wednesday was the first day since April 15 when no new infections were reported in Minnesota, the state's board of animal health said.

Last month, on a conference call about Minnesota's outbreak, John Clifford, the USDA's chief veterinarian, said the agency was preventing the spread of the disease between farms.

If confirmed, a lateral spread "would represent a failure in biosecurity," said John Glisson, vice president of research for the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association. (Reporting by Tom Polansek; Editing by Bernard Orr)

http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSL ... 6?irpc=932

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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2015 8:45 pm 
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Change in pattern of H5N2 spread raises questions
Filed Under: Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)
Robert Roos | News Editor | CIDRAP News | May 07, 2015

Poultry experts and industry officials say the H5N2 avian flu virus is changing its transmission pattern, hitting multiple neighboring farms instead of widely separated ones, and in the process raising questions about possible airborne spread and even changes in the virus itself.

Meanwhile, Minnesota reported two more turkey-farm H5N2 outbreaks today, while Iowa reported H5 outbreaks on one chicken farm and one turkey farm.

Possible farm-to-farm spread
In the early days of the H5N2 crisis, which began in Minnesota in early March, the virus struck widely separated farms in a seemingly random pattern. And in most cases in Minnesota, only one barn on each farm was affected. The conventional theory was that wild birds had brought the virus to the Midwest and that it was getting into poultry barns via wild-bird feces clinging to workers or equipment.

But now some counties have many infected farms, meaning the outbreaks are close together. Exhibit A is Kandiyohi County, the state's top turkey producer, where 32 farms have been hit. Others are Stearns County, with 14 outbreaks, and Meeker County, with 8.

This has prompted talk of lateral spread of the virus from farm to farm. For example, on a conference call with reporters yesterday, Minnesota State Veterinarian Bill Hartmann, DVM, MS, commented, "Some poultry veterinarians have mentioned that it could be spreading from farm to farm through the air."

"This idea of lateral spread is one theory, it has not been confirmed," he added. His comments were included in a summary of the call provided by the Minnesota Board of Animal Health (MBAH).

Carol Cardona, DVM, PhD, an avian health expert at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, said the results of epidemiologic investigations have not yet been divulged, but she assumes the speculation about lateral spread of the virus "is based on the fact that there are clusters of farms now starting to appear and the virus appears to have changed, so that now multiple barns are infected all at same time."

"Previously it didn't even spread to the next barn, so it wasn't spreading from farm to farm," she said. "Now it seems to have done that. . . . Multiple barns become infected at the same time."

Has virus changed?
She suggested that the change in transmission pattern may mean that the virus has mutated in some way. "Influenza mutates with every host it infects," she said. "When it passages through wild birds or through domestic poultry, it will change. That's a given."

A similar view was voiced by an egg company executive in Wisconsin, according to a May 5 story in the Chippewa Herald, a newspaper in Chippewa Falls, Wis. John Brunquell, president of Egg Innovations, Port Washington, Wis., which owns 60 farms, said, "We believe all these infections you're hearing about now are from facility to facility" and that migratory waterfowl are no longer the main vehicle for the virus.

He added that the theory gaining the most support is that the virus has mutated so that it can stay active on feathers, dust, or manure long enough to reach a poultry barn by air after it's blown out of another nearby facility's exhaust system, according to the story.

Another infectious disease expert, Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, said the changing transmission picture doesn't necessarily mean the virus has mutated. He is director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, which publishes CIDRAP News.

"There's been evidence of transmission like this before, in the Netherlands, so I'm not sure this necessarily means that," he said. "It could, but we need the isolates tested to find this out. It could be just acting like any other highly pathogenic [avian flu] virus we see, with wind-driven virus transmission. It just hasn't been stopped by the current level of biosecurity."

He said wind-driven transmission is "surely a possibility," but so far its role is unknown. US Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials have mentioned the possibility of H5N2 being carried into poultry houses by windborne feathers or dust.

Possibly lending credence to that theory is a study yesterday in PLoS One. A Dutch research team reported they found avian flu viruses via air sampling in and near barns housing poultry that were infected with several different low-pathogenic avian flu viruses: H7N7, H9N2, H5N2, and H10N9.

The team used filters to take airborne dust samples inside, upwind, and downwind of the poultry barns, then used reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction to detect viruses in the samples. The researchers didn't, however, isolate viable viruses from the environmental samples.

There has been some talk of an air sampling study in Minnesota, but it wasn't clear today if any such study has been launched.

Osterholm said the University of Minnesota, the USDA, and a large poultry company are collaborating on a big case-control study to try to shed more light on the epidemiology of H5N2. He called it an "exhaustive review" that compares affected and unaffected farms.

"It's by far the most comprehensive case-control study I know of that's ever been done on poultry outbreaks," he said. He was unsure when the findings would be released.

Minnesota and Iowa outbreaks
The two Minnesota outbreaks announced today are the 32nd event in Kandiyohi County and the sixth in Meeker County, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) reported. Flock size information was not yet available for either one.

The two incidents raise the state's count to 84 affected farms in 21 counties. The official bird toll remains at about 5.6 million, which does not include farms where bird counts are still awaited.

In Iowa, agriculture officials today announced that the H5 virus has turned up on two more farms in counties that have been hit before, Osceola and Cherokee, bringing the number of affected sites in the state to 35.

The Osceola outbreak involves a pullet farm housing about 100,000 chickens, and the Cherokee County event affects a turkey farm where the number of birds is pending, according to a statement from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS).

Based on earlier reports, the latest events, if confirmed, increase the overall H5N2 toll in Iowa to at least 20.4 million birds, most of them layer hens.

News writer Lisa Schnirring contributed to this report.

See also:

May 5 Chippewa Herald story

May 6 PLoS One study

May 7 Minnesota DPS announcement

May 7 IDALS statement

http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspect ... -questions

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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2015 4:39 pm 
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Where Is Avian Flu Hiding?
Three strains of the virus are decimating poultry farms across the country, but how they’re being transmitted remains unclear

By Dina Fine Maron | May 18, 2015

It was still winter in Minnesota when state officials first heard about turkeys on a large farm that seemed to be a bit off. Some of the birds were unusually quiet, drank and ate little and seemed to have trouble moving. Within two weeks of exhibiting this odd behavior they were dying. The cause, laboratory tests soon confirmed, was H5N2, a mixed-origin avian flu that had never been seen in the U.S. before this year.

For the nation’s number-one turkey-producing state, this was horrible news. In states including California and Washington the virus and its close cousins had led to more than 250,000 poultry deaths (by disease or depopulation) in the prior three months. Officials in Minnesota steeled themselves for an onslaught of H5N2 cases. All 26,000 birds on the farm where the virus was found were killed as a precautionary measure, and for a few weeks all seemed quiet. Then reports from a dozen more farms started to pour in from far-flung parts of the state. The farms were not owned by the same companies, were not close to one another and did not have the same employees. It was evident state officials had a formidable outbreak on their hands. But where the flu was coming from remained unclear. Now almost 90 farms in Minnesota have been hit and 7.7 million birds have either been killed by the flu or culled as a precautionary measure.

Nationwide, the situation is even more ominous. Since December almost 34 million birds across 15 states have died or been killed because of one of three avian flu strains: H5N2, H5N8 or H5N1.

How is it getting around?
The H5 flu strains may not be spreading because of conditions on the farms themselves. Instead, wild ducks and geese appear to be harboring the virus. The birds have been natural reservoirs for other H5 viruses without getting sick, making them likely couriers of the current strains gripping the nation. Ducks and geese are also ubiquitous in the afflicted states. “Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, and we do have a lot of water fowl that are either residents here or on their migratory path north this time of year and stop for awhile here or fly over,” says Beth Thompson, assistant director of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health. The state tells people to stay away from wild waterfowl but “it’s kind of hard to do if you have a natural pond or stream around you.”

Yet evidence that wild birds are carrying the viruses remains mixed. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has collected more than 3,000 fecal samples from wild ducks and geese for H5N2 testing. They also analyzed tissue samples from 75 birds killed by hunters and examined dead wild birds around the state. No waterfowl have yet tested positive for H5N2, says Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager for the department. Oddly enough, his team did identify one Cooper’s hawk infected with H5N2. The hawks typically eat small birds—not ducks or geese—and they don’t scavenge for dead birds. That raises questions about where the infected hawk contracted the virus, says Cornicelli, adding that at the first farm in Minnesota where turkeys tested positive for H5N2 there were no waterfowl on the property.

“If it’s not from the waterfowl where would the virus be coming from? It doesn’t come from the sky,” says Jack Shere, associate deputy administrator for veterinary services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. So how to explain the lack of H5N2 in Minnesota’s geese and ducks? “I think the birds are gone,” Shere says. “They migrated and that’s the difficulty of wild bird sampling. The constituents aren’t there anymore but they leave the virus in the water,” and if commercial farms use an infected pond to water their poultry or to clean out the barns, they could be spreading the virus, he says.

Although Minnesota, one of the hardest hit avian flu states, has not found any sign of the disease in waterfowl, other states have. There are more than two dozen confirmed cases of individual ducks and geese infected with the H5N2 virus spread through Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Missouri, Kentucky, Wyoming and Kansas. In some states there are also reports of the other two avian flu strains (H5N8 and H5N1) in waterfowl.

But how would the virus get from a goose or a duck to a commercial bird? At most farms, turkeys or chickens live in closed barns so disease-carrying wild birds can’t wander in and spread infection, Thompson says. Humans, however, could step in virus-laden feces from waterfowl—or come into contact with some dropped on their cars—and then carry it into barns. But Thompson and other animal experts believe this is not the sole mode of transmission.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota, led by animal health expert Montse Torremorell, recently completed an air-sampling study of four poultry barns at three Minnesota farms and detected bits of genetic material from H5N2 in air particles inside and immediately around the infected facilities. This suggests the virus could be transmitted through the air, at least over short distances. Yet the research is far from conclusive because detecting a virus in the air does not mean it’s a viable pathogen that could cause disease in birds. To gain clarity Torremorell says her team plans to conduct further analysis with the samples.

SEE ALSO:
Energy & Sustainability: Where Is Avian Flu Hiding? | Evolution: Did Affluence Spur the Rise of Modern Religions? | Mind & Brain: How Does Your Memory for Presidents Stack Up? | Space: 60-Second Science Video: The Loneliest Place in the Universe | Technology: Satellite Sensor Reveals Earth’s Nocturnal Secrets | More Science: Why Do Some Animals Live Longer Than Others?
Shere also thinks the virus could be transmitted via the air. “With the proper environmental conditions—cool weather, wet weather, enough wind and some dust—this virus could move in particles,” he says, particularly with the help of fans that would blow it through the barns. “It doesn’t take a lot of virus to get these birds sick, and we have lots of birds in close proximity in certain complexes and it’s just like a day care center for small children—if one kid gets sick the rest can get sick.”

Will it infect humans?
So far, the three flu strains seem to be sticking to birds. The virus has not yet been detected in humans and public health officials say it’s unlikely the virus will make the leap. That judgment is based on experience with similar H5 strains and the lack of human cases from this outbreak so far, says Joni Scheftel, state public health veterinarian at the Minnesota Department of Health. Moreover, if a person was infected with the virus after working closely with a sick bird, experience suggests the virus would still be unlikely to be passed between humans, she says. In order for the virus to make that leap to humans at all a number of changes in the virus would need to take place.

Simply put, H5 avian flu is tailor-made for birds. In the human respiratory tract there are receptors that are well suited for seasonal flu, making it easy to contract. Avian flu requires different receptors, which are common in birds. “We do have some of the type of receptors that avian flu can latch onto but we don’t have a lot of them,” says Michael Jhung, a medical officer with U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s Influenza Division. The nightmare scenario, however, would be if pigs contracted the avian flu, because they have both the seasonal flu and avian flu receptors. “If pigs got infected with seasonal influenza virus and avian influenza virus at the same time, the viruses could mix. That’s called reassortment,” he says. Then, if the subsequent virus has genes that code for human receptors, it could be more transmissible to and between people. So far, however, there have been no reports of the flu or elevated levels of sickness in pigs.

Agriculture officials believe that U.S. waterfowl picked up H5N8 from Asian birds during migration. That strain then likely mixed with less-lethal North American avian influenza viruses to create new mixed-origin viruses with the “H5” part of the virus from Asia and the “N” part from North America. H5N2 and H5N1 are two of the new mixed-origin viruses. (The H5N1 virus in the U.S. is not the same as the H5N1 virus seen in Asia that has caused some human sickness since 2003.)

Because these H5 virus mixtures are somewhat unique, what little knowledge we have is based on experts’ knowledge of other H5 viruses. That’s why the CDC says it is unlikely humans may already have contracted the avian flu while exhibiting only mild symptoms that are flying below the radar. Typically, people with H5 viruses get very sick. Still, public health officials are asking people to self-monitor for 10 days following potential exposure to infected birds, watching for typical symptoms such as runny nose, difficulty breathing or conjunctivitis.

So far there have been no reported cases in humans. Minnesota officials have already monitored 290 people and advised more than 150 to take Tamiflu as a precautionary measure. The state has also tested more than a dozen people with suspicious symptoms to see if they had avian flu—all were negative.

It would be hard for potentially exposed farm workers to fall through the cracks in Minnesota, Scheftel says. In that state, when a laboratory confirms a bird is sick with H5N2 it sets off a chain of actions. The health department contacts the flock master of the farm and gets a list of every worker. Then state officials contact each individual for an interview to ask about potential symptoms. For the following 10 days health department employees contact all the potentially exposed workers daily via text, e-mail or phone to continue asking about symptoms. Meanwhile all other birds on the farm are killed by a mix of state, federal and farm employees or contract workers, all bedecked in the required head-to-toe personal protective equipment, including rubber boots or disposable boot covers, waterproof coveralls, N95 respirators, safety goggles, gloves and head coverings.

Whether the H5 strains are coming from waterfowl feces, virus-laden water, people tracking the virus into barns or something else altogether, one thing is clear: The viruses are spreading, and figuring out how will take more than a wild goose chase.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/artic ... lu-hiding/

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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 12:54 pm 
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TOM PHILPOTTPREVIOUS
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Bird Flu Is Slamming Factory Farms But Sparing Backyard Flocks. Why?
—By Tom Philpott| Wed May 20, 2015 6:00 AM EDT

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The Midwest's ongoing avian flu crisis is wreaking havoc on the region's large-scale egg and turkey farms. Last week alone, the US Department of Agriculture confirmed that the virus had turned up in more than 20 additional facilities in the region, condemning 4 million birds to euthanasia. Altogether, the H5N2 virus—"highly pathogenic" to birds, so far non-threatening to humans—has affected 168 sites and a jaw-dropping 36 million birds, the great bulk of them in Iowa and surrounding states. It's the largest avian flu outbreak in US history—and it has already wiped out 40 percent of the egg-laying flock h Iowa, the number-one egg-producing state in the US, according to The New York Times.

But it's largely leaving backyard flocks unscathed. Why?

You'd expect backyard flocks to be widely affected too, but they don't seem to be," said one virologist.
According to Hon S. Ip, a virologist at the US Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center, it's a genuine mystery. Backyard flocks typically roam outdoors, in ready contact with wild birds, which are thought to be the origin of the virus. Their commercial counterparts live in tight confinement under strict "biosecurity" protocols: birds are shielded from contact with the outdoors; workers change into special boots and coveralls—or even shower—before entering facilities, etc.

Ip said that wild birds could be spreading the virus in one of two ways: directly, by bringing chickens and turkeys into contact with infected feces; or indirectly, through wind-borne particles that, say, blow through vents in a confined facility. "If that's how it's spreading, you'd expect backyard flocks to be widely affected too, but they don't seem to be," he told me. Moreover, it has continued to spread in Iowa, even after the egg industry had ample time to ramp up biosecurity. All of this suggests something else, besides wild birds, might be the cause, Ip added.

USDA secretary Tom Vilsack speculated that the virus could be entering farms through biosecurity breaches.
But what? He has no idea, he said. And nor, apparently, does anyone else. In a recent news item [paywalled], the journal Science declared the outbreak "enigmatic." "All the old dogma about high-path influenza transmission has just gone out the window," Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy here at the University of Minnesota, told the journal. "We're in totally uncharted territory."

Meanwhile, in an interview with Iowa Public Radio, USDA secretary Tom Vilsack speculated that the virus could be entering farms through biosecurity breaches. "We've had circumstances recently where folks have been using pond water, for example, to feed and to water their birds. Well, that's a problem because the pond water could be contaminated," Vilsack said in the interview. "We've had situations where folks are supposed to shower before they go into the facility, but the shower doesn't work, so they go in anyway."

I've seen no reports detailing current conditions on egg farms in Iowa, but it's worth noting that in 2010, the Food and Drug Administration found troubling biosecurity lapses within some of the state's largest egg facilities, after they had been forced to recall 550 million eggs due to potential salmonella contamination. The FDA inspectors' report detailed a variety of problems, including several involving contact between egg-laying hens and wild birds.

While experts scramble to figure out how the disease is spreading, the egg and turkey industries are dealing with one particular immediate consequence: how to safely dispose of millions of potentially flu-ridden bird carcasses. As the Des Moines Register reports, the process is not going smoothly:

Landfills in South Dakota, Nebraska and northwest Iowa, where poultry producers have been the hardest hit, have turned away the dead birds, fearful of the risk of contamination. The problem is so severe that on Friday, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stepped in to urge landfills to accept some of the millions of birds killed or destroyed by the H5N2 virus, saying delays could [exacerbate] odors and flies, problems neighbors have already complained about in some parts of the state.

In response to these difficulties, the USDA has "dedicated 266 employees, including 85 in Iowa, and contracted more than 1,000 personnel to work around the clock across the 20 states affected by the outbreak," Vilsack wrote in a statement. In addition, the agency has allotted $130 million "in indemnity payments to help poultry producers who have lost flocks get back on their feet," Vilsack added.

That relatively modest measure of taxpayer support for the poultry industry may just be the beginning. The USGS's Ip said the rate of new infections is "showing signs of slowing down" as warm weather sets in. Flu viruses are "less stable" at higher temperatures, he said, which is why flu tends to be much worse in winter than in summer. But as Reuters reported recently, the USDA warns that it's "highly probable" the strain will return when the weather cools this fall. If it does, and it spreads to the eastern and southern poultry belts—where the great bulk of the chicken we eat is produced—taxpayers could be in for a real hit.

http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott ... ps-experts

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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 1:24 pm 
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H5N2 – Avian Flu: Electric Flugaloo
Tara Jenson May 20, 2015 SciTech Leave a Comment
You’ll be forgiven if you haven’t heard much about this whole avian flu thing, what with it being primarily centered in Flyover Country and all.1:

“The bird flu that has swept across the Midwest in recent weeks is taking a sharp toll on rural economies, with University of Minnesota researchers estimating losses in the state at $310 million and counting…[b]ird flu has doomed more than 33 million birds in 15 states, with Iowa and Minnesota the hardest-hit”2
But all of the economic and personal livelihood devastation impacts of this strain of avian flu aside, let’s have some real talk about the Minnesota State Board of Animal Health nixing bird exhibits for the year not only at the Great Minnesota Get-Together, but at all county fairs, “swap meets”3 and petting zoos. One Nolan Hohenstein, a 19 year old 4-H member from out-state Minnesota, has been especially personally devastated by this latest havoc wreaked by the avian flu:

“It’s just kind of devastating that I can’t show poultry my last year in 4-H.”
Glad to see 4-H has taught you to keep things in perspective, Nolan.

Even hippies living in urban areas with backyard flocks of chickens4 are eyeing the local sparrows with suspicion wondering if and when the avian flu will jump from whatever mystery vector to their own feathered dinosaurs.

So a full five months (the virus had already shown up in Washington and California three months prior to its appearance in MN)5 and 33 million dead birds later, it must be clear by now exactly how this batch of avian flu is spreading, right?



Apparently, there remains a whole lot of head-scratching about the means for spread of this avian flu. Here’s what is known:

1. The spread of the virus has had no clear common denominator:

“…reports from a dozen more farms started to pour in from far-flung parts of the state. The farms were not owned by the same companies, were not close to one another and did not have the same employees”
2. The initial theory was that migrating water fowl, aka ducks and geese, are serving as carriers of the virus without themselves being affected by the virus.6 However – more than 3000 fecal samples of wild ducks and geese in Minnesota tested negative for H5N2, and the first Minnesota farm where the virus made an appearance proved to harbor neither ducks nor geese on the premises.7

3. Another theory is that the migrating carriers of the virus did exactly that – left their virus-laden droppings behind in the water and on land, then migrated on to other locations. While H5N2 hasn’t been found in Minnesota waterfowl, seven other states have confirmed cases of geese or ducks infected with H5N2.8

4. A single Cooper’s hawk (a species that neither eats ducks or geese, nor scavenges dead things) in Minnesota has tested positive for H5N2, leaving investigators clueless as to how it would have acquired the virus.9

5. The prevailing theory being explored by both the University of Minnesota and the USDA is that the virus may be spreading through the air. According to Jack Shere, associate deputy administrator for veterinary services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service:

“With the proper environmental conditions—cool weather, wet weather, enough wind and some dust—this virus could move in particles,” he says, particularly with the help of fans that would blow it through the barns. “It doesn’t take a lot of virus to get these birds sick, and we have lots of birds in close proximity in certain complexes and it’s just like a day care center for small children—if one kid gets sick the rest can get sick.”10
There seems to be agreement that no one needs to freak out yet about humans coming down with H5N2; birds’ respiratory systems commonly possess the puzzle pieces that H5N2 needs to plug into, while humans don’t have enough of the right receptors to give H5N2 a foot in the door.11 On the happy side, the changes required for H5N2 to more easily snuggle into humans’ respiratory tracts just wouldn’t occur easily or simply. On the suck side, it turns out there is in fact a potentially perfect virus blending machine among us with both avian flu and human-catchable seasonal flu receptors: pigs.

A very nice man with the CDC sets the stage for Contagion 2: The Contagioning – “If pigs got infected with seasonal influenza virus and avian influenza virus at the same time, the viruses could mix. That’s called reassortment.”12

Well – we can all sleep sound knowing that for the moment, “there have been no reports of the flu or elevated levels of sickness in pigs.” Oh, well ok then – we feel much better.

http://bitterempire.com/h5n2-avian-flu- ... -flugaloo/

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