After more than a week of no bird flu incidents, six new outbreaks at Minnesota turkey farms were disclosed Tuesday by animal health regulators.
The six cases bring the number of stricken farms to 94 since the bird flu surfaced in Minnesota in early March, devastating commercial turkey flocks and a few large chicken egg operations. More than 8 million birds have died, not including ones on most of the six farms.
Until Tuesday, the state hadn't announced a new outbreak since May 15, said Bethany Hahn, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Animal Health Board. That was the longest period between cases since early to mid-March, just before a tide of outbreaks swept the poultry industry.
Animal scientists have been hoping the flu would slow down and die out — at least for the summer — as the weather gets warmer.
"The virus is still around," Hahn said. "We were guardedly optimistic, but we will see what will happen."
Three of the outbreaks announced Tuesday were in central Minnesota's Kandiyohi County, bringing the total there to 36, the most of any of the 22 Minnesota counties struck by the lethal H5N2 avian flu. Kandiyohi is the largest turkey-producing county in the nation's biggest turkey-producing state.
Two more outbreaks were reported in Renville County, bringing the total there to four. Brown County reported its first outbreak, which involved 46,800 turkeys.
Minnesota raises about 46 million turkeys annually; the flu has wiped out about 10 percent of production.