A state of emergency has been declared in Minnesota, after Avian Influenza, known as the Bird Flu, has lead to the culling of more than 7,3 million birds. The strain was found to be H5N2; it is highly contagious to birds, but thankfully not for people as well.
According to the CDC, the only people who are advised to take antiviral medication are those who came into direct contact with the diseased birds. Therefore, farmers are taking a preventative course of Tamiflu, a drug that will help them be safe throughout this outbreak.
An analysis is currently under development, to find out exactly how the disease was spread. Wild birds are most likely to blame, but it is not yet quite clear how exactly they managed to contaminate the farms.
Researchers believe that the virus entered farms by means of feather dust and windblown dirt and that the outbreak was catalyzed by the low temperatures experienced lately by Minnesota. They are testing the birdfeed and taking samples from all throughout the halls in the farms to get to the bottom of it. “This is a moving target and the number of farms affected continues to increase,”, comments Governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton.
Only this year, the H5N2 strain of Avian Influenza has been found in 12 other states, including Kansas, Washington and Wisconsin, and over the border in Ontario, Canada. And the H5N8 strain of the disease is present in Idaho and California.
The main measures being taken are the culling of potentially contaminated birds, the ongoing analysis that will have to find out how infection took place and the prophylactic treatment of farmers and other people who have come in contact with sick birds. The situation is quite tense, and Mark Dayton is ready to appeal to the National Guard if he sees fit.
The outbreak of Avian Influenza means that Minnesota bird farmers are losing a large amount of money in birds that have died and no chance to turn a profit them and the implementation of future safety measures. For the time being, they will be fully reimbursed for the birds on their farms that will be confiscated for culling.
As for the effect on people, the health authorities have explained that the H5N2 strain of bird flu is different from the H5N1 one, that has previously lead to human contamination.
Kristen Ehresmann, Minnesota’s Department of Health specialist in infectious diseases, explained that while people are known to be susceptible to the H5N1 and the H5N9 strain, no cases of H5N2 infection has been observed in humans. “It’s entirely possible. We just haven’t seen a case yet.”
“There’s no reason for anybody in the state of Minnesota to be concerned about their own health or that of their children,” clearly points out Mark Dayton. Furthermore, he explains that the poultry available in stores is completely safe for consumption.
Image Source: gannett-cdn.com
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