BLOG: Edina Democrat says you can catch bird flu by eating turkey

Rep Ron Erhardt, D-Edina MN House

Rep Ron Erhardt, D-Edina, was dressed in a white lab coat and holding props to share a story from the House floor today about eating turkey over the weekend and immediately having flu symptoms  He questioned the safety of eating turkey, which legislators had just consumed on the Capitol steps in  support of Minnesota’s turkey industry which has been dealing with the avian flu crisis on farms across the state.

The 11th term, 85-year-old Erhardt issued an apology later in the day which included his intent to discuss the “potential public health issues related to the avian flu crisis.”

Per KSTP news, avian influenza has affected 5.2 million birds in Minnesota.  According to the Minnesota Department of Health no human cases of this latest strain of the avian flu virus have been detected in the United States.  There are other strains of the virus that can infect people in rare cases.  Those handling the infected birds directly could potentially be at risk and it is recommended that they take anti-viral medications.

Speaker Kurt Daudt allowed Erhardt’s speech to ramble on before Rep Jeanne Poppe, D-Austin, asked for a point-of-order stating that she was confused by Erhardt’s statements and requested that Daudt “tell him to stop.”  Rep Dave Baker, R-Willmar and Rep Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg also requested that the Speaker stop Erhardt, though Daudt chose to allow the legislator to continue before Rep Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake stood up to make a harsh criticism of Erhardt’s comments and requested that the Minnesota Department of Health come over to test the Edina representative based on his claims.

The avian flu outbreak in Minnesota is no laughing matter, neither is Erhardt’s key role in the final weeks of the legislative session. Rep Erhardt is the only DFL-appointee on the Republican-led House’s transportation conference committee which meets tomorrow to negotiate the $7-$11 billion in proposed spending.