USDA issues Bird Flu Warning

USDA issues Bird Flu Warning

BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - The United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service says it found avian flu in commercial turkey flocks in Pope County, Minnesota, and Jasper and Moniteau Counties in Missouri. According to the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, these are the first findings in the Mississippi Flyway, a typical migratory path for birds.

The strain of influenza is H5N2, the same strain that has been confirmed in backyard and wild birds in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. State officials quarantined the affected areas and the remaining birds on the property will be depopulated to prevent the spread of disease. The USDA says birds from the involved flock will not enter the food system.

"Over the years, Louisiana has increased its surveillance of poultry in the state. We are currently enforcing all Louisiana Board of Animal Health entry regulations and enhanced poultry entry restrictions will be announced. Currently, we do not have avian influenza in Louisiana; however, we must make commercial producers and backyard poultry enthusiasts aware that the USDA has detected the highly pathogenic avian influenza in the U.S.," Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said.

Louisiana has a surveillance program in conjunction with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to test birds in wildlife preserves. Backyard poultry growers' flocks are also tested.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the risk for people to be infected by birds with bird flu is low. No human infections with the viruses have been detected so far. The Minnesota Department of Health is working with poultry workers at the impacted facility to make sure they are taking proper precautions.

The virus strains can travel in wild birds without them appearing sick. People should avoid contact with dead or sick poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, health experts say you should wash your hands with soap and water and change clothes before having any contact with healthy poultry and birds.

Copyright 2015 WVUE. All rights reserved.