- Associated Press - Thursday, April 9, 2015

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - A bird flu strain that’s deadly to poultry has been confirmed in a second commercial turkey flock in eastern South Dakota, federal officials said Thursday, bringing to 15 the number of Midwest farms infected.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the strain of avian influenza in the flock of 34,000 turkeys in Kingsburg County, which sits between Huron and Brookings.

The U.S. in recent months has seen an increase in cases of the highly pathogenic H5N2 strain affecting poultry in multiple states, including nearby Minnesota. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the risk to people to be low.

So far the total number of outbreaks across the Midwest has reached 15, including the new finding in South Dakota. Minnesota has been hit the hardest with nine farms struck by the virus. The disease has killed or forced producers to destroy well over 500,000 birds since early March.

The first case of the virus in South Dakota was found last week at Riverside Farms near Huron in Beadle County. That flock that is one of the Hutterite colonies that own and supply turkeys to Dakota Turkey Growers LLC.

It wasn’t immediately clear Thursday which farm in Kingsbury County had been affected.

State officials said they had quarantined the latest farm and that birds on the property would be killed to prevent the spread of the disease.

Dr. Dustin Oedekoven, South Dakota’s state veterinarian, said all turkeys at the Beadle County farm had been destroyed and disposal is underway. He said the Kingsbury County farm would begin destroying birds Thursday and hoped it would be complete on Friday.

“We do anticipate that we could find additional cases, additional farms infected with highly pathogenic avian influenza,” Oedekoven said.

As a precaution, the state plans to quarantine and test all poultry in a 10-kilometer zone surrounding the second farm, Oedekoven said. They will also do some surveillance in a 20-kilometer zone.

Oedekoven said he’s not aware of any commercial turkey flocks in that quarantine zone, but have identified nine locations that do have some backyard poultry.

The virus poses a very low risk to humans - none have been infected so far - but Lon Kightlinger, the state epidemiologist, said they are still asking those who are directly exposed to infected birds to self-monitor for 10 days.

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