The 2015 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreak in Minnesota (MN) and the Midwest caused significant economic impact. MN lost over 9 million birds and 108 farms were affected across 23 counties resulting in more than $647.2 million from lost turkey and egg production and processing. Farmers managed the outbreak with the assistance of national and state agency resources, but the process was highly stressful and uncertain. While no human infections with HPAI were detected, the broader health consequences for farmers, workers and affected families are unclear. We hypothesize the ongoing stress and fatigue challenged workers’ abilities to cope with job demands leading to strain which can aggravate pre-existing medical conditions, trigger unhealthy coping behaviors, and adversely impact relationships and decision making.
We will examine the experience of turkey growers, farm workers and their families from the MN county hardest hit by HPAI—Kandiyohi County. Using the One Health perspective and a case study approach we will investigate the impact of the outbreak on individuals’ physical and mental health, coping and resilience and any ripple effects on family and community. The case study involves qualitative interviews, secondary data analysis and content analysis of reports and news media articles. We will produce a manuscript and final report, and translate the research to practice for stakeholders (extension, local public health, UMASH). Depending on the study findings, we will extend this research by proposing further investigation of rural mental health and resilience and apply for external funding.