Local farmers not taking any risks with bird flu

Nearly four million birds have been killed by the disease to date

Nearly 4 million birds have been affected by the bird flu in Minnesota.

Gov. Mark Dayton declared a state of emergency for the flu late last week to fight the disease.

A bill is currently on the desk of Dayton, which would send nearly $900,000 to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health and Department of Agriculture to help fight the bird flu.

Dayton has said he will sign the bill.

The disease hasn’t hit the Southeast part of Minnesota, but one local farmer isn’t taking any risks.

John Bashaw has lived in Houston County for more than 50 years. He has raised chickens since the 1930s.

“I bread for show quality for characteristics of their breed, color and station,” Bashaw said.

Bashaw shows his birds at events all around the country, but he doesn’t want his prize possessions getting the bird flu, so right now he is holding off on going to any shows.

“I feel we have to isolate ourselves, stay away from other birds unless it’s an absolute necessity and be very careful when we do it,” Bashaw said.

The bird flu has reached 70 farms in 19 counties around the state of Minnesota so far. To date, the disease has killed 3,938,432 birds in Minnesota.

But state officials are doing their best to contain it.

“The federal agency called the USDA and our state agency the board of animal health have worked together to control each and every case that occurs, preventing it from spreading to other farms and that effort has been largely successful,” said Carol Cardona, Pomeroy director of Avian Health at the University of Minnesota.

Cardona said she believes the bird flu was actually walked into barns by farmers and those visiting farms.

“So the birds come and deposit fecal material around the outsides of the barns and so then the virus can be walked in,” Cardona said.

Bashaw isn’t taking any risks, so he is doing whatever he can to reduce potential contamination of his chickens.

“Well, I’ve tried not to go to any other places where the birds are, I don’t let other people who have birds on the property,” Bashaw said.

Bashaw said if he comes in contact with any other birds when he gets home his clothes go immediately into the wash as to not carry the disease from one farm to another.

Cardona said the bird flu cannot be transferred to humans. It is still safe to eat both chicken and turkey.