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Three fox pups in Michigan die from BRID FLU

Three kit foxes have died from bird flu in Michigan, officials announced Thursday, as the virus that has affected flocks of birds around the world in recent months continues to be found in wild animals.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports that three kits died from highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) between April 1-14 in the eastern part of the state, and one was detected in Macomb County. , near Detroit.

Another infected fox was detected and also Macomb, confirmed to be a brother of the one that died, survived but developed blindness and will not be able to return to the wild.

This report comes a day after Minnesota officials announced that a kit fox in their state had also died from the virus, the first such incident in a US wild animal.

The virus has spread rampant among the global poultry population in recent months, leading to the culling of thousands of birds and creating problems in the poultry supply chain.

Three fox pups in Michigan have died after being infected with bird flu.  Officials cannot yet confirm how they contracted the virus (file photo)

Three fox pups in Michigan have died after being infected with bird flu. Officials cannot yet confirm how they contracted the virus (file photo)

The DNR received a report that a wildlife rehabilitation center in the southeastern region of that state had observed three fox cubs showing neurological signs of HPAI.

Symptoms included tremors, spinning and seizures. Within hours of admission to the facility, two of the foxes had died. The third showed promising signs of recovery at the start of treatment, but also succumbed.

All three foxes tested ‘non-negative’ for the virus. This now marks four confirmed fox kit deaths from the avian virus in North America, joining the only death in Minnesota. Officials in Ontario, Canada, also previously reported the death of a fox from the virus.

A case was also detected in the fox in the Netherlands last year.

The virus has spread across the continent in recent months, prompting large-scale culling of birds and disrupting the poultry supply chain.

“Highly pathogenic avian influenza is a virus known to affect birds throughout North America, with detections in backyard flocks and commercial poultry facilities, to date, in 34 states and detections in wild birds in 35 states.” Eric Hilliard of the DNR Wildlife Division said in a statement.

“HPAI is highly contagious and poultry are especially vulnerable. In addition, this viral strain also affects waterfowl, birds of prey and scavengers such as turkey vultures, eagles and ravens.

Hilliard says that he is currently unsure how these foxes became infected with the virus.

Minnesota officials speculate that the fox that died in their state likely contracted the virus when it was a wild bird that was infected.

Most of the detected cases of the virus have been found in wild birds, but it can also be easily transferred to domestic birds.

Transmission to humans is rare, but is also possible. Last month, a Colorado inmate tested positive for the virus, becoming the first person infected during this surge.

Avian flu has wreaked havoc on the global poultry population in recent months, prompting the necessary culling of thousands of birds and disrupting global supply chains (file photo)

Avian flu has wreaked havoc on the global poultry population in recent months, prompting the necessary culling of thousands of birds and disrupting global supply chains (file photo)

A human can contract the virus through contact with an infected bird. If the bird were to peck or scratch at them, it could cause transmission.

The virus is killed when poultry is properly cooked, so unlike foxes, humans don’t have to worry about catching the virus from eating an infected bird.

Person-to-person transmission of this version of the virus is not believed to be possible.

Still, however, officials warn people to remain vigilant, as the virus’s constant cross-species transmission opens the door to mutations that could eventually lead to a human outbreak.

“Highly pathogenic avian influenza primarily affects birds, but it’s important to remember that it can be a zoonotic disease, meaning it has the potential to spread from domestic or wild animals to humans,” Hilliard said.

“Now, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the public health risk associated with HPAI remains low, but they advise people to avoid handling sick or dead wild birds.”

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