Highly pathogenic avian influenza was detected in multiple flocks across Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska over the weekend, according to state and federal officials.
As a result, tens of thousands of birds will be killed in order to prevent the virus – otherwise known as bird flu – from spreading.
In Minnesota, samples from a commercial turkey flock in Meeker County and a backyard mixed-species flock in Mower County tested positive for bird flu, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced Saturday.
The state Board of Animal Health said these were the first confirmed cases in Minnesota.
Meanwhile, a seventh outbreak was reported in Iowa over the weekend, according to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. The virus had been detected in a flock of commercial pullet chickens in Franklin County, impacting 250,000 birds, state officials said Saturday.
The Nebraska Agriculture Department disclosed that a fourth case of bird flu had been detected in the state. The latest case in the state involved a small backyard flock in Holt County, impacting 50 birds at most, according to officials.
Avian influenza is an airborne respiratory virus that spreads easily among chickens through nasal and eye secretions, as well as manure. The virus can spread from flock to flock by wild birds and through contact with infected poultry. Farms found with the virus must kill and dispose of their flocks and affected areas must also be quarantined.
APHIS said it's working with state animal health officials in Minnesota in response to the outbreaks. Both properties have been quarantined and all the birds will be killed to "prevent the spread of the disease." The department also said the birds "will not enter the food system."
To date, cases of the virus have been confirmed in at least 18 states since it was first identified in Indiana in February, and more than 13 million chickens and turkeys have been slaughtered because of it.
However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said these detections don't pose an "immediate public health concern" and confirmed that no human cases of these avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States.
The best way to handle chicken and eggs is to cook them to an internal temperature of 165 F "as a general food safety precaution," according to the CDC.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.