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Bird Flu Outbreak Reaches Red Foxes

May 12, 2022 • 6:06 pm CDT
by Brigitte Werner
(Precision Vaccinations)

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced today it received confirmation that three red fox kits died from highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). In early April 2022, the fox kits came from three separate dens in Michigan Lapeer, Macomb, and St. Clair counties.

The kits were observed circling, tremoring, and seizing.

Two of the three died within hours of intake, while one appeared to respond to supportive therapy but then died while in care. 

These are the state’s first such confirmation of the HPAI virus in wild mammals.

However, HPAI was confirmed in 69 wild birds in Michigan in 2022.

And earlier this week, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reported that the state’s first confirmed case of HPAI was in a wild fox kit from Anoka County.

This is the first confirmed case of HPAI in a wild mammal in Minnesota.

“Testing in Minnesota has confirmed HPAI in nearly 200 wild birds, including 19 species of birds, primarily waterfowl and raptors,” stated Michelle Carstensen, the DNR’s wildlife health program supervisor, in a press release.

'Anyone who notices what appears to be unusual or unexplained deaths among wild birds or sick, dead, or neurologically abnormal foxes is asked to report the information.'

In North America, the first report of HPAI H5N1 in wild mammals occurred in Canada on May 2, 2022, when two wild fox kits in Ontario tested positive for the virus.

The virus was detected in brain tissue, and sequencing results indicate the same strain of HPAI found in the current North American outbreak (H5N1 A/goose/Guangdong/1996 (Gs/GD) lineage).

As of May 11, 2022, 34 states have confirmed the Eurasian H5N1 strain in birds since January 2022, leading to the loss of about 37.7 million birds as of May 11, 2022. 

These are the first detections of HPAI A(H5) viruses in the U.S. since 2016.

Aditional avian influenza outbreak news is posted at PrecisionVaccinations.com/Avian.

Note: This information was edited for clarity and manually curated for mobile readers.

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