DNR confirms avian flu in wild foxes

A young red fox
A young red fox(PK Blankenship/Kentucky Wildlife Center)
Published: May. 13, 2022 at 1:32 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says three red foxes tested positive for the avian flu. It’s the first time the avian flu was found in a wild mammal in Wisconsin.

The DNR says three fox kits from three different counties were tested after showing advanced neurological symptoms.

A DNR wildlife veterinarian says the kits were most likely infected after eating infected wild birds.

Dr. Lindsey Long said there’s no evidence foxes are a significant source for transmitting the H5N1 virus, and there are no cases of H5N1 in domestic dogs or cats. However, the DNR advises people should avoid approaching any wild animal that appears sick or injured or is behaving abnormally.

Neurological symptoms of infection include unbalanced posture, pacing or walking in circles, or head or body tremors. These can be caused by a number of conditions, including disease, parasites, or environmental contaminants.

Wild birds, particularly waterfowl and shorebirds, are still the most likely animals to be infected by the avian flu. The H5N1 strain is considered highly pathogenic because of how deadly it is to domestic poultry.

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