MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A wild fox from Anoka County has tested positive for the highly pathogenic avian influenza, and is the first wild mammal in the state to contract the disease.
The case was confirmed in a fox kit earlier this week, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said. Last week, two red fox kits from Ontario, Canada tested positive for HPAI.
So far, HPAI has been confirmed in nearly 200 wild birds, including 19 species of birds and raptors in the state.
Nationally, the highly contagious virus has culled 37 million chickens and turkeys in U.S. farms since February. It’s also having an alarming effect on bald eagles, causing them to feel unsteady on their talons and render them unable to fly.
This year’s strain is more aggressive than the previous 2015 strain, the Minnesota DNR says.
“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 to be sick or injured.”
Minnesotans who find sick or dead birds or raptors should contact the DNR.