A state of emergency has been called for following a major outbreak of bird flu in Minnesota
Governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton has called for a state of emergency following a major outbreak of the highly contagious H5N2 virus, or avian flu or bird flu as it is more commonly known. The National Guard has been alerted and will be pressed into active service, if required, according to a report from the Associated Press. The virus has affected over 40 poultry farms across the state. The Government of Minnesota has also made arrangements for administering Tamiflu, the anti-flu vaccine for workers who have been exposed to flu-affected birds
The recent bird flu virus is not restricted to Minnesota, but it is rampant throughout the country with up to 16 states being affected. This year, a total of over 7.3 million birds have died as a result of this virus throughout the U.S. Poultry farmers have been advised to take all measures to protect the birds. It is believed that the virus is entering the country though migratory waterfowl from Asia which could possibly be carrying the virus without getting sick themselves.
Although the impact on humans has not been established, it is believed that they can be affected by certain strains of the virus like H5N1 bird flu and H7N9 bird flu. A total of 87 people have been detected who have been in contact infected birds, and according to Kristen Ehresmann of the Minnesota Department of Health, 70 of them are ready to take a course of Tamiflu.
In a statement by Minnesota government officials, there is no threat to food safety by consuming poultry products. The infected birds are destroyed and all shipments are thoroughly checked. Dave Fredrickson, commissioner of the Department of Agriculture reiterated this by saying, “The poultry on grocery store shelves is safe and will continue to be safe.”
Health department personnel are of the opinion that with the onset of warmer weather, the virus should get suppressed.