Third bird flu case confirmed in North Dakota in past month; events still restricted in 12 counties

Bird flu continues a resurgence in North Dakota, with another case documented in the eastern part of the state.

The confirmation in a turkey and chicken flock in Ransom County is the first detection in a commercial flock in North Dakota in five months. Fourteen of the state’s 19 cases since spring have been in small backyard flocks, though the bulk of the birds destroyed in the state have been in the commercial flocks. It’s standard practice to destroy infected flocks so the birds don’t enter the food chain.

Federal data shows that 167,096 birds in North Dakota have been destroyed, with 166,500 of them in commercial flocks, though the data wasn’t immediately updated Tuesday with the Ransom County case. Nearly 46.5 million birds have been destroyed nationwide amid the avian influenza outbreak.

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North Dakota has nine turkey farms that produce about 1 million birds annually. The State Board of Animal Health last month changed its strategy for protecting them and backyard flocks from bird flu, going from a statewide to a regional approach.

All shows, public sales, swaps and exhibitions of poultry and other birds are banned in counties with confirmed cases, along with adjoining counties. Producers in those counties also are barred from taking birds to or from poultry events in nonrestricted counties. Violations are punishable by a fine of up to $5,000. Restrictions are lifted if no new bird flu cases emerge within 30 days of the implementation of the bans.

The documentation in Ransom County extends a ban on poultry events there and in the adjoining counties of Barnes, Cass and Richland. Events in those counties had already been under suspension because of an Aug. 31 bird flu detection in a Cass County backyard flock. That case also impacted Traill and Steele counties.

A Sept. 21 confirmation in a backyard flock in Ward County in north central North Dakota triggered a ban on events in that county and five others: Renville, McHenry, McLean, Mountrail and Burke.

The three confirmations in North Dakota in the past month are the first since a summer lull that began in early June. The state’s first two cases were in March, with 12 more occurring in April at the height of the outbreak.

There also have been 279 confirmed cases of avian influenza in numerous types of wild birds throughout the state, including in Burleigh and Morton counties, according to federal data. That’s most in the nation.

Bird flu infection in people is rare, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sick or dead wild birds can be reported at https://gf.nd.gov/wildlife/diseases/mortality-report.

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