Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has declared a state of emergency as a bird flu outbreak has killed more than 2.5 million birds in the nation's top turkey producing state. Under the governor's emergency order, the National Guard will not be officially activated but will offer assistance.
200 workers fighting bird flu
Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson said his agency has 86 workers on the ground fighting avian influenza, and the USDA has 134 people working in the state.
The USDA has already spent $15 million helping stricken farmers in Minnesota. There are 26 farms in 14 Minnesota counties that have been infected with the avian flu this year.
Workers exposed to turkeys taking Tamiflu
State epidemiologist Kris Ehresmann said 70 agricultural workers exposed to infected turkeys are taking Tamiflu as a precaution. Ten workers have developed minor symptoms, but none have tested positive for influenza. Ehresmann said they are monitoring a total of 140 workers who have worked with infected turkeys.
Serious threat to poultry industry
"This emergency declaration will trigger important new resources to help bolster efforts to contain the spread of avian flu," U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar said in a statement. "While the avian flu does not pose a threat to humans or to our food supply, it is a serious threat to our state's vital turkey and chicken industries. I am planning to meet with poultry producers in western Minnesota on Monday, and I will also be speaking with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. I will continue working to ensure our state has the necessary resources to combat the spread of avian flu and protect our state's poultry producers."