DNR confirms Minnesota's second case of bird flu in the wild

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For just the second time, a strain of the bird flu that has devastated the state's poultry industry has been detected in a wild bird in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources confirmed on Friday that a chickadee recently delivered to a wildlife rehabilitation center tested positive for avian influenza.

In April, officials identified a Cooper's hawk stricken with the virus in western Minnesota, the first known wild infection in the state.

According to the Associated Press, the disease has been detected in wild bird species in other states, but the latest discovery makes the first time it has been found in a songbird.

Up to this point, the disease was more commonly associated with water fowl, which are thought to have spread it (and which seem to be immune).

Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager, pointed out that since the chickadee was turned into a rehab center and not the DNR, the agency will not be able to determine if it had H5N2 – the same strain responsible for the deaths of millions of chicks and turkeys in Minnesota.

Nonetheless, he said, the findings "highlight the complexity of how this virus is spread, and that it can impact both wild and domestic birds,” according to a news release.

Meanwhile, the Bemidji Pioneer notes that there haven't been any new cases on the state's commercial poultry farms in over a month, and nearly a quarter of Minnesota farms struck by the virus will soon begin restocking.

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