Bird flu is suspected cause of death of six geese in Rochester Park

Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) – Avian flu is the suspected cause of death for six Canada geese found in Silver Lake Park.

City officials said a Rochester resident reported six dead Canada geese in the park. The Minnesota DNR has removed the remains and is testing for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

If the geese test positive for HPAI, City of Rochester employees who potentially had contact with the infected birds will be monitored by the Minnesota Department of Health’s (MDH) Zoonotic Disease Unit.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infections in people are rare. However, the disease can spread when enough of the virus gets into a person’s eyes, nose or mouth, or is inhaled. The spread of bird flu viruses from an infected person to close contact is rare, and when it has occurred has not led to continued spread among people.

Kim David/TSM

Kim David/TSM

“It’s rare to find a number of dead geese in the park with no apparent injuries,” Rochester Parks and Recreation Director Paul Widman said. We are taking precautions and working with county and state authorities to prepare for bird flu.

Widman said Rochester city parks will continue to be open to the public, but attendees should follow guidelines provided by Olmsted County Public Health (OCPH).

“Keeping away from wildlife is always recommended. Since the geese are currently in their nesting season, they tend to be a bit more aggressive than usual,” Widman said. “Park participants are encouraged to stay away from geese and other waterfowl.”

Kim David/TSM

Kim David/TSM

When bird flu is detected in Minnesota, a response zone is created around the infected premises to control movement and establish an area for testing and surveillance protocols to be performed. The Minnesota Board of Animal Health will determine if other birds near the park are infected.

Although people are not susceptible to bird flu, advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent exposure includes:

  • Avoid direct contact with wild birds and observe them only from a distance.
  • Avoid contact with poultry that appear sick or dead.
  • Avoid contact with surfaces that appear to be contaminated with the droppings of wild or domestic birds
  • Wear gloves and wash your hands with soap and water if you must handle wild birds or sick or dead poultry.
  • Wear respiratory protection, such as a medical mask, when handling birds.
  • Change clothes before contact with healthy poultry and domestic birds.

Residents who keep chickens, ducks or other birds at risk for HPAI should follow guidelines provided by the Minnesota Department of Animal Health.

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