The Missouri Department of Agriculture confirmed cases of H5N2 bird flu in two turkey-growing facilities, first in Jasper County and another in Moniteau County. This is the first time that the H5N2 virus was detected in the state.

To ensure the situation is contained and that the virus doesn't spread, the MDA is implementing a coordinated response with state officials, the U.S. Department of Agriculture as well as industry partners. Bird flu outbreaks have been confirmed in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Minnesota but the agency maintains that H5N2 is not a threat to public health or the food supply.

In fact, no cases of H5N2 bird flu in humans have been detected yet in North America and the rest of the world.

Still, the MDA is following strict protocols to not only contain H5N2 but to completely eliminate the threat of bird flu. The two facilities confirmed to be positive to the virus were quarantined immediately and turkeys that are part of the involved flocks will undergo depopulation and not included in the supply chain. USDA protocols are also in place for testing and surveillance in properties close to the affected turkey facilities to guarantee that the H5N2 virus has not spread.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has also reached out to workers from the two turkey facilities who may have been potentially exposed to the virus. The MDA and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the USDA have also started an incident command response to assist in the situation.

"People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds," warned [pdf] the USDA.

All bird owners, whether backyard enthusiasts or commercial producers, are reminded to keep practicing good biosecurity to prevent contact between wild birds and those in their care. Any unusual bird deaths or sick birds must be reported immediately to the MDA's Animal Health division.

An outbreak in Minnesota was the first time the H5N2 had a presence in the Mississippi Flyway. In recent months, wild birds and backyard fowl have been infected in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Due to the Minnesota outbreak, 40 countries including the European Union banned poultry imports from the state. China, on the other hand, has called for a ban on all poultry coming from the U.S.

Photo: Frank Jania | Flickr

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