New Type of Avian Flu; First in US

( – In an unprecedented incident within the United States that might have an unhealthy influence on Americans, a young goat has been confirmed to carry the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

The discovery happened in Stevens County, Minnesota, and marked the first case in the country of bird flu in a domestic ungulate species such as cattle, sheep, goats or their relatives within the U.S.

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health announced that the young goat lived on a farm with HPAI-positive poultry and also tested positive for the same virus.

State Veterinarian Dr. Brian Hoefs commented on the significance of this discovery, noting:

“This finding is significant because, while the spring migration is definitely a higher risk transmission period for poultry, it highlights the possibility of the virus infecting other animals on farms with multiple species,” State Veterinarian Dr. Brian Hoefs said. “Thankfully, research to-date has shown mammals appear to be dead-end hosts, which means they’re unlikely to spread HPAI further.”

Subsequent to the identification of HPAI in February among the farm’s poultry, which resulted in a quarantine the confirmation of the virus within the goat prompted the Board of Animal Health to extend the quarantine to encompass all remaining fauna on the property.

Efforts to clarify the mechanisms of viral transmission are being conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The goat’s owner had alerted the Board of Animal Health concerning the recent birth of children on the farm which had previously been affected by a depopulation of its backyard poultry due to avian influenza.

The shared environment and water source between the goats and poultry underscored the inter-species viral exposure risk. Once the goat died, its body was taken to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for examination.

The laboratory confirmed the presence of influenza A, and the National Veterinary Services Laboratories subsequent affirmation identified the strain as H5N1 HPAI that corresponded to the variant implicated in the ongoing national outbreak initiated in 2022.

Health officials noted that the risk to the public is “extremely low,” and any risk of infection is limited to those who have direct contact with infected animals. The Board of Animal Health says no humans in the U.S. have gotten sick after having contact with mammals infected with bird flu.

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