Wild Fox Kit Tests Positive for Bird Flu in Anoka County
A wild fox kit in Anoka County has recently tested positive for bird flu.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported that the fox tested positive for a highly pathogenic avian influenza, and this is the first confirmed case in a wild mammal in the state. The initial alert to the DNR came from the University of Minnesota’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory that confirmed the positive test earlier this week.
As of last week, there were two red fox kits located in Ontario, Canada that have also tested positive with HPAI. These were the first reported cases of the HPAI found in a wild mammal within North America.
The DNR says that they routinely respond to reports of sick animals and conduct testing for many of their diseases when found. These diseases include canine distemper and rabies. Due to recent HPAI confirmed cases, the DNR will start adding avian flu to their routine screening processes when foxes exhibiting symptoms are submitted to the Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
“Testing in Minnesota has confirmed HPAI in nearly 200 wild birds, including 19 species of birds, primarily waterfowl and raptors,” said Michelle Carstensen, the DNR’s wildlife health program supervisor.
The HPAI strain has become more aggressive this year, and has caused more deaths among poultry and wild birds than previous years.
“Wild animals can sometimes transmit diseases to humans, and while we typically think of rabies or other well-known diseases as the primary concerns, this shows that there are other risks to keep in mind as well,” said Dr. Joni Scheftel, state public health veterinarian with the Minnesota Department of Health. “The best advice we have for Minnesotans is to avoid contact with wildlife that appear sick or injured and contact your healthcare provider if you are bitten or have other close contact with wildlife.”
The DNR is asking Minnesotans that find sick or dead waterfowl or raptors to contact the DNR and file a report, as waterfowl and raptors are wildlife that are most affected by HPAI.
More information can be found on the MN DNR website.
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