From March until early June 2015, 110 turkey and egg laying farms were diagnosed with a highly-pathogenic form of avian influenza, or HPAI, and about 9 million turkeys and chickens (laying hens) have died or been euthanized to fight this outbreak. (To find the latest flock numbers affected, click here.)
Although the outbreak has been over for several months, our turkey farmers continue to be on high alert and have adjusted their biosecurity procedures to protect their turkey flocks. The good news is most of the farms impacted have either repopulated or will be bringing in new birds to their barns soon.
The Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) works closely with state and national agencies to coordinate the communication of the latest information to Minnesota’s poultry farmers through a variety of methods. We provide education and outreach to our members on how farmers can keep their flocks safe from disease threats, while working closely with University of Minnesota Extension to provide information to small flock and backyard flock owners. We continue, as always, to communicate with other state poultry associations as needed, and serve as a resource for the media.
The turkey products you purchase are completely safe to eat:
- This is NOT a food safety issue. All flocks are tested for this virus, well before going to market. Any flocks tested positive for the virus are NOT allowed to enter the food supply.
- All poultry identified with HPAI are prohibited by law from entering the marketplace.
- As a reminder, all poultry and eggs should be handled properly and cooked to an internal temperature of 165° F to kill bacteria and viruses.
There is also very little human health risk:
- The risk of human infection is very low. To date, the HPAI strains that have been found in the United States have not been detected in humans.
- Risk of infection is limited to people in direct contact with affected birds.
Impact on consumers in the grocery story is minimal:
- The annual production of more than 240 million turkeys occurs in more than 25 states across the country, and this ensures consumers will be able to find all of the turkey products they currently enjoy. For context, the H5N2 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza has affected approximately five percent of the turkey population. For the individual producers and companies affected, this is extremely serious. The impact on the consumer, however, should be minimal. Consumers to this point should not have any trouble finding the turkey products they always have enjoyed at a reasonable price. (Source: National Turkey Federation)
- Read more about why there is not a turkey shortage or higher prices at Thanksgiving here.
For more information, please visit the Minnesota Board of Animal Health’s website on avian influenza: www.mnairesponse.info
Media requests for photos: view media gallery here.
Examples of Biosecurity Practices
Farmers use a variety of biosecurity practices to keep germs out of turkey barns, including wearing dedicated boots for barn work (and tucking pant legs into the boots); stepping in a foot bath with disinfectant before entering and upon leaving the barn; and making sure vehicle wheels are washed with a disinfectant before entering the farm.
Danish Entry Biosecurity System – Videos
These videos detail what a “Danish Entry” system of biosecurity looks like.