Bird Flu

In this Nov. 2, 2005 file photo, turkeys are pictured at a turkey farm near Sauk Centre, Minn.

A bird flu that’s deadly to poultry was confirmed to have been found in a northern Chippewa County farm Tuesday, county officials said.

The latest outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N2 strain has been identified at an undisclosed turkey farm housing 60,000 birds. All of the remaining birds will be killed to prevent any spread of the disease.

Authorities have stressed there has been no risk to public health and no danger to the food supply from the Avian flu outbreak.

Jen Rombalski, director-health officer for the Chippewa County Department of Public Health, said the department was notified Tuesday by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection about the bird flu being on the farm when test results came back from the lab.

She said in cases such as this, all bird farms within a 10-mile radius will also be quarantined. She said that amounts to two other farms, both of which are in Chippewa County.

“This is a sad situation for the farm owner, and a concern for many people,” she said, noting however that "this particular strain has not crossed over into humans.”

She said the DATCP classifies it as “a very low risk to the general public,” but it is not termed no risk. Rombalski said the individuals at the farm will be closely monitored, and they have been working closely with the public health department. As a precaution, they will be taking medication to prevent them from becoming sick.

State agriculture officials this month detected the virus for the first time in Wisconsin. It has been found in three flocks affecting tens of thousands of chickens and turkeys.

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This past week the outbreak was discovered at a farm with 126,000 turkeys in Barron County, at a farm that belongs to Jennie-O Turkey Store.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the Barron County case was the same H5N2 strain that has cost Midwest and Ontario, Canada producers more than 2 million birds since early March.

“We aren’t really sure how this farm became contaminated. It’s not near the one in Barron County,” Rombalski said.

She said that if someone were to see any sick or dying birds, they are asked to report it by calling 800-572-8981.

Chippewa County Administrator Frank Pascarella said the county’s Public Health Department, Land Management along with a state agency have been informed about the outbreak. He said the departments will follow a protocol in destroying animals infected with the Avian flu, which he said the departments will monitor.

On Monday, Gov. Scott Walker declared a state of emergency, authorizing the Wisconsin National Guard to assist authorities responding to the bird flu in Jefferson, Juneau and Barron counties. That includes helping with the response and clean up once the infected birds are killed.

Walker says the state must act “quickly and efficiently to contain the outbreak and protect domestic poultry.”

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The Associated Press and Herald reporter Rod Stetzer contributed to this story.



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