CHICAGO – Wisconsin has declared a state of emergency over a bird flu outbreak that is infecting U.S. poultry and Gov. Scott Walker said on Monday he has authorized the state’s National Guard to help contain the disease.
The Republican governor declared the emergency because three flocks have become infected in the past week, according to a statement from his office. The infected birds were chickens at an egg-laying facility, turkeys and a backyard flock of mixed-breed birds, comprising more than 326,000 birds in all.
Since the beginning of the year, the H5N2 flu has been found in poultry in 12 states, including Wisconsin. Other states with infected flocks are Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota and Washington.
The disease can kill nearly an entire flock of infected poultry within 48 hours.
“Assistance from the Wisconsin National Guard is necessary because federal resources are thin, due to avian influenza virus outbreaks in other states, particularly in the Midwest,” the statement said.
Wisconsin’s state veterinarian requested up to 14 Guard personnel be made available for immediate assistance responding to the outbreak, according to the statement. The personnel will be allowed to help contain the outbreak and clean up infected sites.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture could not immediately be reached to comment on the availability of federal resources.
The USDA has deployed about 60 people to Minnesota in recent weeks to respond to the bird flu, John Clifford, the agency’s chief veterinarian, said last week. Minnesota, the top U.S. turkey-producing state, has found more flocks to be infected with the virus than any other state.
The infections have hurt trade in the $5.7 billion U.S. export market for poultry and eggs.