Experts: Worst Avian Flu Outbreak in U.S. History

Bird Flu Being Blamed for Over $300 Million in Losses in Minnesota

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Thirty-five million birds across 16 states have been euthanized, including in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, The Dakotas, and Nebraska.

Already, there have been hundreds of millions of dollars of economic impact.

“You don’t lose one bird, you lose all your birds,” said Lucie Amundsen, Owner of Locally Laid Eggs.

It’s being called the worst outbreak of avian flu in U.S. history.

“This is the first season that the U.S. has seen any losses to avian bird flew,” Amundsen said.

It’s hitting home especially hard in Minnesota.

“It’s been rampant,” Amundsen admitted.

Eighty-eight farms across 21 counties have been affected, and a state of emergency has been declared.

“Millions and millions of birds are being culled, even though they might not yet have the disease, they’ve been exposed to it,” explained Amundsen.

As of Monday, nearly six million birds have been euthanized in Minnesota alone.

That’s 9 percent of all turkeys, and 14 percent of all laying chickens in the state.

Last week, new restrictions from the Minnesota Board of Animal Health cancelled all bird exhibitions for the rest of 2015, including at all county and state fairs.

“We don’t want to have it spread all over the state, and who knows how many more millions of chickens and turkeys will have to be disposed of,” said Frank Siiro, president of the St. Louis County Fair.

More than 70 birds were expected to be at the South St. Louis County Fair in Proctor this July.

“I’ve talked to a couple of the 4–H kids, and they’re really disappointed,” Siiro said.

But officials say the risk isn’t worth the reward.

“No, I can’t be upset because I know what the outcome could possibly be, so it’s better to be safe than sorry,” said Siiro.

The bird flu is already being blamed for more than $300 million in total losses statewide, and is affecting the local economy.

“Right now egg prices are up, demand is up, we are completely sold out in the Northland right now,” said Amundsen.

But the only control farmers have at this point is to practice bio–security measures and hope for the right conditions.

“That’s when we make sure we wash our boots before we go from barn to barn, or from inside to outside,” explained Amundsen. “The avian bird flu doesn’t do well with 70 degrees and dry.”

Along with a little bit of luck.

“We are like every poultry farmer out there, just crossing fingers and watching the calendar, waiting for the nice weather to come,” Amundsen added.  

Experts say there is extremely low risk for humans getting sick. No human losses have been reported so far.

Officials continue to emphasize our food system is safe.

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