Friday, August 27, 2010

Leech Lake Birds Affected by Virus

A virulent strain of Newcastle Disease is responsible for the death of nearly 1,000 gulls and 500 cormorants in Minnesota this summer including Leech Lake in Cass County.

The specific strain of Newcastle Disease was confirmed this week by the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis.

DNR officials are recommending Minnesota poultry producers practice, what they term, sound biosecurity procedures, including the monitoring of their poultry flocks for signs of illness and taking steps to prevent wild birds from having contact with their flocks.

Newcastle Disease has not yet been detected in Minnesota’s poultry flocks. If birds show clinical signs suggestive of this disease, producers should immediately contact their veterinarian or the Board of Animal Health at 320-231-5170. Similarly, cormorants, gulls and pelicans suspected to have the disease should be reported to the local Department of Natural Resources (DNR) area wildlife office.

In recent days, sick and dead cormorants have been discovered at Leech Lake. To date, all dead birds have tested negative for the avian influenza virus.

A viral avian disease, Newcastle rarely affects humans. When it does affect humans it generally causes a relatively mild pink eye.

The last outbreak of Newcastle Disease occurred in 2008, when about 2,400 birds died at eight different locations. State officials ensure that dead birds are buried or incinerated.

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