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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota animal health officials are imposing a ban on all poultry sales and exhibitions through the month of April after the presence of bird flu was found in the state.

The ban, which includes poultry community sales, swaps, fairs, exhibitions and other events where birds are brought together, is effective Friday and lasts through May 1.

A report from the Minnesota Board of Animal Health says avian influenza has been found in commercial flocks in Meeker, Stearns, Kandiyohi and Lac Qui Parle counties and in a backyard producer in Mower County.

“Viruses like HPAI need hosts to continue to spread,” said State Veterinarian, Dr. Beth Thompson. “It’s our job to stop the spread of disease. Unfortunately, in this situation we feel one of the best things we can do for the health of all birds in Minnesota is to take a pause on poultry events through May 1.”

According to state officials, the current outbreak in Minnesota poses a high risk to poultry but low risk to the public and there is no food safety concern for consumers.

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