Scientists Fear Avian Flu Could be Airborne

Governor Mark Dayton declared a state of emergency related to the bird flu outbreak in Minnesota.

One affected farm is just east of Hawley Minnesota. At Baer Brothers Co. an initial test for the virus came back "presumably positive." The USDA still has to confirm that positive test result.

As we wait to find out the fate of 300,000 chickens at the Baer farm, Valley News Live Farm Director and Meteorologist Mick Kjar explains a fear many scientists have - avian flu is airborne.

"It's carried by migratory waterfowl, that's the way everybody thought. We're in the mid-west flyway and the birds flying south to north were carrying it,” Kjar says.

“But for three years, scientists have been realizing we probably live on a fault line so to speak. This H2N5 virus has morphed a little bit and is now being able to be transported airborne.”

When something becomes airborne, it’s as easy to catch as the common cold.

“Like when you sneeze, even if you don't see anything out in front of you, there are germs out there. And this is a germ-based pathogen and wind can pick it up. We've had a lot of wind lately, a lot of south wind,” Kjar explains.

If that turns out to be the case, could H2N5 be blowing in the wind from farm to farm across Minnesota, and even state lines?

“That's the fear,” Kjar says. “I mean at this point it's just a theory. But impeccable bio-security hasn't stopped this thing from going from one farm to another. So in the case of the Baer Farm, they're very good, they're excellent producers, fantastic businessmen, but this has not prevented a big outbreak like this."

The Baer farm is under quarantine, awaiting official test results.