Turkeys at Butterball farms infected with avian flu

Butterball frozen turkeys on display at grocery store in Bainbridge Township, Ohio.
(Amy Sancetta / Associated Press)

A “limited number” of turkeys at Butterball contract farms in Missouri and Arkansas have been diagnosed with H5N2 avian influenza, a Butterball spokeswoman said.

While this strain is highly contagious and potentially fatal to birds, the risk to humans from infected birds is low, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

There have been no reports of humans infected with the virus, the USDA said.


The infected birds were at two different farms, one in each state, Butterball spokeswoman Stephanie Llorente said in a statement.

The USDA confirmed Wednesday the virus’ presence in Arkansas, where a 40,000-turkey flock was infected in Boone County, near the Missouri border. The Missouri case was confirmed Sunday by the state’s department of agriculture, which found the disease at a turkey grower facility in Asbury, near the Kansas border.

State officials have quarantined the affected areas, and birds on the property will be killed to prevent the disease from spreading, the USDA said. Birds from the infected flock will not enter the food system.

Butterball is based in Garner, N.C., and operates as a joint venture between Maxwell Farms and Seaboard Corp.

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