First case of highly contagious bird flu strain confirmed in Bayfield County

Published: May. 23, 2022 at 10:25 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BAYFIELD, WI -- Bayfield County recorded its first case of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza virus late last week.

The flu was detected in a backyard flock, which was killed to avoid spreading the virus.

It’s not known where the virus came from or if it could have spread elsewhere.

The Avian Flu is a fairly common illness, especially in waterfowl like ducks and geese.

The new strain is considered “highly pathogenic,” meaning it’s more transmissible in domestic birds like chickens and has a high mortality rate.

“It can be so serious if it does get transmitted and not every bird will show the symptoms,” said Kathy Ronchi with Douglas County Health and Human Services.

Ronchi said the strain could have up to a 100 percent mortality rate for domesticated birds within 48 hours of infection.

Prior to the Bayfield infection, the strain had been found as far north as Barron County, WI.

Ronchi said surrounding counties, like Douglas County, are already coming up with plans to keep the disease from spreading any further.

“We don’t want people bringing their birds together. Our main outreach will be for people with the backyard flocks to think about how they have their birds,” she said.

For Douglas County’s bird owners, the news is concerning.

“The idea that they could be all wiped out in 24 hours. That’s hard to understand,” said Cindy Greely, who owns 35 chickens, “There are things we can do, but am I doing enough? My birds have been cooped up literally since probably February or March before this actually started hitting the ground.”

Counties around Bayfield will ask people to do their best to limit the spread.

They’re asking the public to keep domesticated birds away from wild ones.

Copyright 2022 CBS3 Duluth. All rights reserved.