For immediate release
Date: April 8, 2015
Contact: Lara Durben
- Phone: (763) 682-2171
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Buffalo, Minn.) … Since early March, there have been a number of flocks of turkeys diagnosed with a highly-pathogenic strain of avian influenza (HPAI). All incidences currently are isolated introductions of the HPAI strain known as H5N2; the flocks are on different farms in several different counties of the state.
“First and foremost, the Minnesota Department of Health assures us that this strain does not pose a health risk to the general public and no human infections have been identified in the U.S.,” said Steve Olson, executive director of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA). “Consumers should also know that HPAI is not a food safety issue.”
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.
Olson said turkey farmers continue to be on high alert. “Our experience so far has been this strain of HPAI is deadly to poultry, and in response, Minnesota’s turkey farmers are making significant increases to biosecurity measures on their farms to protect their flocks. Comprehensive disease prevention protocols on commercial turkey farms include, but are not limited to, restricting farm access, preventing flocks from exposure to wild and migratory birds, increasing veterinary monitoring of flocks, and using protective gear at all times.”
Olson indicated that MTGA is working closely with authorities as avian influenza surveillance proceeds and to keep our members updated on the findings of that testing.
“Providing excellent care of their flocks and ensuring the safety of the turkey products they produce are of critical importance to Minnesota’s turkey farmers, and the turkey farming community is taking USDA’s identification of avian influenza in the U.S. very seriously,” said Olson.
Backyard and pastured flocks could be at a higher risk as these birds may be in closer contact with carriers of HPAI, such as waterfowl. Owners of such flocks are urged to take the precautionary measures:
- Restrict access from wildlife and wild birds to your birds by use of enclosed shelter and fencing of the outdoor areas. (Consider use of smaller mesh hardware cloth which allows exclusion of wild birds while still allowing outdoor exposure.)
- Keep feeders and waterers clean and out of reach of wild birds. Clean up feed spills.
- Use dedicated or clean clothing and foot wear when working with poultry
- Don’t share equipment or reuse materials like egg cartons from neighbors and bird owners, you could be borrowing disease.
MTGA has several fact sheets and web links with much more information about HPAI and biosecurity measures for farmers at minnesotaturkey.com/farmers/hot-topics/avian-influenza/.
You may also visit the Minnesota Board of Animal Health’s website on avian influenza: www.mnairesponse.info.
For more information on avian influenza basics for backyard flocks, please visit the University of Minnesota Extension Poultry Website at where there are two factsheets available:
- Avian Influenza Basics for Organic and Pastured Poultry Flock Producers- A descriptive guide to Avian Influenza; what to do if your poultry may be infected, and key biosecurity recommendations; and
- Avian Influenza Basics for Urban and Backyard Poultry Owners – A descriptive guide to Avian Influenza; what to do if your poultry may be infected, and steps to protect your flock. Each contains additional resources as well.
Another good source of information for backyard flocks is this USDA website: http://healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov/.
The MTGA, founded in 1939 and located in Buffalo, MN, is a nonprofit association dedicated to fostering a successful Minnesota turkey industry and its ability to make positive contributions to consumers, the economy, the environment and its members. Minnesota is currently ranked #1 for turkey production in the U.S. with its 450 turkey farmers raising approximately 46 million turkeys in 2014. Minnesota has the most independent turkey farmers of any state in the U.S.