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First Case of H5N1 Bird Flu Identified in a Dairy Herd of Minnesota

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“We knew it was only a matter of time before this detection would reach our doorstep,” remarked State Veterinarian Dr. Brian Hoefs, following the detection of H5N1 avian influenza in a dairy herd in Minnesota. This marks the first instance of the virus being found in cows within the state.

According to a report from the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, the bird flu strain was identified in Benton County, central Minnesota. A dairy producer there observed clinical signs in “only a handful of cows” last weekend. By the next day, more than 40 cows exhibited signs of fever, prompting testing by the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. The USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories later confirmed the presence of H5N1.

Dr. Hoefs emphasized the importance of vigilance, stating, “It’s important for dairy farmers to follow the example of this herd and test sick cows. The more the animal health community can learn about this virus today through testing and research, the better we can equip ourselves to prevent infections tomorrow.”

Governor Tim Walz addressed the outbreak during D-Day anniversary celebrations in France, acknowledging that the Benton County case “is a concern.” Similar cases have been detected in at least two dairy herds in Iowa, prompting Governor Kim Reynolds to request resources from the USDA to combat the disease.

Health agencies across the United States and globally are grappling with the spread of H5N1, which has led to the deaths of dozens of dairy cattle in five states. Human infections have also been reported, with at least three cases in the U.S., including one in Michigan late last month. Additionally, a man in Mexico recently died after contracting H5N1, though health officials attributed his death to underlying chronic health conditions.

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