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Opinion: Bird flu concerns return

With the arrival of fall, Minnesota poultry farmers and companies remain concerned the fall waterfowl migration could bring bird flu to the state. Minnesota's turkey and chicken industries were hit hard this past spring, with losses totaling more...

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With the arrival of fall, Minnesota poultry farmers and companies remain concerned the fall waterfowl migration could bring bird flu to the state.

Minnesota’s turkey and chicken industries were hit hard this past spring, with losses totaling more than $650 million, with the center of the outbreak in Kandiyohi County and around west-central Minnesota.
Officials and researchers at the county, state and federal level do not know how this bird flu outbreak devastated more than 100 farms across Minnesota.
The general consensus is droppings from migrating birds and waterfowl returning in spring introduced the virus to the region. Some are concerned the feathered wildlife heading south for winter could spur another outbreak this fall.
“Whether the virus will come back or not is unpredictable,” state veterinarian Bill Hartmann told Minnesota Public Radio.
Poultry farmers and companies in west-central Minnesota and around the state have re-thought their biosecurity measures and increased safety procedures.
Animal health and industry officials worked around the clock to fight the bird flu outbreak. This fall, they are working to speed the detection process and eliminate infected flocks more quickly to reduce poultry losses if possible.
The stated goal this fall is to kill infected flocks within 24 hours of virus confirmation, instead of the several-day process that took place this past spring.
The bird outbreak hit hard, and affected some businesses related to the industry. Fortunately, many farms have been able to restock and restart production again.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed that industry changes and environmental factors will help the fall pass without significant outbreaks. Poultry farming and processing remain valuable industries in the region and state.
Editor’s note: This editorial originally appeared in the West Central Tribune in Willmar, Minn. The Tribune and Agweek are owned by Forum Communications Co.

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