Market News & Headlines >> H5N2 Bird Flu Found In Chicken Flock

USDA on Monday confirmed the first case of the virulent H5N2 strain of bird flu in a commercial chicken flock, boosting concerns about a virus that has already killed more than a million turkeys this year.

H5N2 was found in a commercial flock of 200,000 chickens in Jefferson County in southeastern Wisconsin, between Madison and Milwaukee, according to USDA. The infected chickens were at an egg-laying facility, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection said.

State officials immediately quarantined the premises and are notifying neighboring properties with poultry. The birds at the infected farm will be culled to prevent the spread of the disease. Chickens from the flock will not enter the food system, officials said in a news release. “We are following strict protocols to contain and eliminate the disease,” Paul McGraw, Wisconsin’s state veterinarian said.

The chicken farm is the twenty-fourth U.S. poultry farm to have been hit by H5N2 since January. All of the other occurrences were at turkey facilities. USDA reported another H5N2 case at a turkey farm in western Minnesota on Saturday after reporting four on Friday, bringing the total number of cases in the top U.S. turkey producing state to 13. Two cases in South Dakota were also reported on Friday along with one in North Dakota.

Counting those latest cases, commercial turkey farms in Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas will have lost more than 1.2 million birds, still a small fraction of the 235 million turkeys produced nationally in 2014.

However, the discoveries have prompted major overseas buyers, including China and Mexico, to restrict imports of U.S. poultry. Producers such as Tyson Foods Inc. have strengthened measures to keep the disease off farms.