A wild fox in Anoka County has tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), the first confirmed case for any wild mammal in the state.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said on Wednesday the case was confirmed earlier this week. The DNR added that the fox is a kit, otherwise known as a baby fox.
Last week, two red fox kits in Ontario, Canada tested positive for HPAI. Those positive results marked the first reported cases of the current outbreak of the contagious sickness in a wild mammal in North America.
This year's HPAI strain is more aggressive, according to the DNR, and has caused more deaths amongst domestic poultry and wild birds than the previous strain in 2015.
“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, in a statement provided Wednesday.
The agency is still learning about this strain and its effects on wildlife. The DNR coordinates "bird sampling efforts" with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Raptor Center, the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota, Wild and Free, and other wildlife rehabilitation centers.
Last week, a female great horned owl returned to the wild after she made an "exceptional" recovery from the strain. Over 100 raptors at the Raptor Center have tested positive for HPAI since late March, Bring Me The News previously reported.