- Associated Press - Friday, March 6, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - More than 40 countries have banned poultry imports from Minnesota after a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza wiped out a flock of 15,000 birds in about a week.

Health officials in the country’s largest turkey-producing state say the strain is unlikely to infect humans, and the head of the state’s turkey farming association says he’s “guardedly optimistic” the flu can be contained. But the rapid action in Europe, Central America and elsewhere jeopardizes roughly $100 million in international exports.

Minnesota Turkey Growers Association Executive Director Steve Olson says the H5N2 strain will have “a huge impact” on exports. The group says about 6 million Minnesota turkeys are sent to international markets every year.

Turkey farmers are taking more protective measures and watching for birds that are lethargic or coughing.

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