Minnesota declared a state of emergency on Thursday over a fast-spreading strain of avian flu that has led to the extermination of more than 7.3 million birds in the country. It followed Wisconsin’s action on Monday.
The highly pathogenic H5N2 strain of bird flu has been identified on 46 Minnesota farms in 16 counties and affected more than 2.6 million birds in the state.
State health officials said they were expediting prescriptions for the antiviral drug Tamiflu for farm workers and others who have been in direct contact with infected flocks. No human infections have been reported in this outbreak.
“There’s no reason for anybody in the state of Minnesota to be concerned about their own health,” Governor Mark Dayton said at a press conference on Thursday after declaring the state of emergency.
Federal and local public health authorities have said the risk of human infection is low.
The state’s action to provide antiviral drugs follows recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Minnesota’s health department approached 140 farm workers and others who had been in direct contact with infected birds and advised 87 of them to take the Roche antiviral medication as a preventative measure, the department’s spokesman Michael Schommer said. Seventy of them took the drug, he said.
Of the 62 people that state health officials have followed up with so far, none have been infected by the virus, Schommer said.