Dairy, Cheese, Eggs / Food Safety / Industry News / Proteins

Jennie-O Farm in Wisconsin Discovers Milder Bird Flu Strain

By Lauren R. Hartman, Product Development Editor

Mar 09, 2017

Officials confirmed a low-pathogenic bird flu strain was detected this week in a Jennie-O Turkey Store operation in Barron, Wis., marking the second bird flu case in a U.S. commercial operation in a week.

AP reports that the USDA posted notice of the case to the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health's website on Tuesday, March 7. Hormel Foods, Austin, Minn., which owns Wilmar-based Jennie-O, confirmed the H5N2 strain was detected March 4 at its Barron operation. The farm is about 90 miles northeast of the Twin Cities. The USDA report said 84,000 birds are at the farm.

The discovery is the second case reported in the U.S. The first case, reported at a chicken farm in Tennessee, involved the highly pathogenic bird flu (HPAI) H7. "This HPAI situation does not involve Jennie-O Turkey Store, and we have no turkey flocks in that area of the country," Hormel reported.

Low-pathogenic strains do not spread as quickly, but they can mutate into highly pathogenic strains, which is why they are closely watched.

Highly pathogenic avian flu spreads quickly and is more likely to produce disease, leading to a greater mortality rate among chickens and turkeys. Avian flu only affects animals; it is not considered a food safety issue for humans.