Minnesota Fox Sickened by Avian Flu Outbreak
St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - A wild fox in Anoka County has tested positive for the avian flu strain that has stricken nearly 3 million birds in commercial poultry flocks throughout Minnesota.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the fox was confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory. It appears to be only the third confirmed case of the avian flu associated with the current outbreak in a wild mammal in North America. Two red fox kits in Ontario Canada tested positive for the virus last week.
“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 says anyone who finds sick or dead waterfowl and raptors are being asked to contact the agency to file a report. Officials say nearly 200 wild birds, primarily waterfowl and raptors, have been found to be infected since the outbreak began in February. A news release says the DNR routinely conducts testing on sick wildlife for many wildlife diseases, including canine distemper and rabies and it is now adding avian influenza to the routine screening process for foxes that exhibit neurological symptoms.