Testing for bird flu continues in waterfowl shot by Minnesota hunters

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The effort to find bird flu in waterfowl shot by Minnesota hunters has, so far, turned up a big goose egg.

The Associated Press reports tests by the DNR on more than 750 ducks have detected no signs of the strain of avian influenza that hit Midwestern poultry producers earlier this year.

Wild birds are thought to carry the virus, but they are not sickened by it.

The DNR's avian flu page details some of the steps the agency is taking when it comes to testing.

There's a three-pronged plan for collecting samples, according to the page:

  • 545 dabbling duck samples from Minnesota watersheds over the course of summer, fall and winter 2015. They have 319 so far.
  • 736 total samples blood, oral and cloacal swabs from live ducks. That's complete.
  • And a goal of 800 samples from hunter harvested dabbling ducks. In the first two weeks of the fall duck season, they've collected 498 samples.

At the time the monitoring program was announced, KSTP noted the testing would be voluntary at DNR field testing stations in Kandiyohi, Meeker, Morrison, Pope, Stearns, Swift and Todd counties. The test involved obtaining a swab from each bird.

About 19-21 percent of the duck samples tested positive for low pathogenic bird flu, which isn't considered a threat, the AP notes.

Similar testing has been underway in other states. WISH in Indianapolis indicated Indiana’s DNR sought similar help from hunters there in their effort to monitor wild ducks for signs of the dangerous strain of avian influenza.

Field and Stream magazine suggested that hunters should "keep an eye out for sick birds and report any sightings of them to local authorities" to help researchers who are monitoring the impact of bird flu.

The Minnesota Department of Health has assured hunters that there are no food safety concerns associated with bird flu. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking whole duck or goose to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

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