Dayton declares state of emergency in Minnesota over avian flu
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has declared a state of emergency as an estimated 2.6 million turkeys have died because of avian influenza since early last month.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has declared a state of emergency as an estimated 2.6 million turkeys have died because of avian influenza since early last month.
The action came Thursday with the number of flocks affected in the country's top turkey producing state rising. Officials awaited confirmation that the first Minnesota chicken flock was infected.
State officials said the executive order Dayton issued allows better coordination among several state and federal agencies responding to the problem.
"This is an important step," State Veterinarian Dr. Bill Hartmann said, adding that "we are on the right path of staying in front of this disease."
With the order, the state is opening an emergency operations center in St. Paul as the flu response coordination facility. A center already has been operating in Willmar, near many of the infected flocks.
It also allows the National Guard to be used if needed, although Dayton said that he has not called up the Guard.
The order lasts until early next week, when the State Executive Council must approve any extension. The council, composes of statewide elected officials, can extend the emergency declaration for 30 days.
Dayton said the flu situation is developing rapidly and no one knows how much it will cost the state and how many personnel will be needed. However, Dayton said, federal funds should provide much of the money needed.
The federal government has 134 workers in Minnesota dealing with bird flu and another 86 state employees are assigned to the case, state Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson said.
Figures the Minnesota Board of Animal Health released Wednesday night indicated that 2.6 million turkeys had died from the flu or been euthanized to prevent its spread. They were on 44 farms in 15 counties.
Published reports indicate at least one chicken flock also was infected, but Hartmann said that has yet to be confirmed.