Minnesota has confirmed its second case of avian influenza in a wild bird, though it's unclear if the chickadee that was found a month ago was infected with the strain that has cost farmers millions of chickens and turkeys, the Department of Natural Resources said Friday.
The chickadee, found in Ramsey County, tested positive for an H5 bird flu virus. But the lab was unable to determine if it was the same highly pathogenic H5N2 strain that has devastated commercial poultry farms in Minnesota and Iowa.
The state's first wild bird to test positive for H5N2 was a Cooper's hawk found in Yellow Medicine County in April. Wild birds in other states also have tested positive for H5 viruses, but DNR wildlife research manager Lou Cornicelli said the chickadee marked the first detection of the virus in a songbird.
While waterfowl are known to carry bird flu, they usually don't get sick from it. However, highly pathogenic strains are generally fatal to raptors and songbirds. Cornicelli said this new case is further evidence that while waterfowl can serve as a reservoir for bird flu, other species are susceptible.
Minnesota turkey and chicken producers have lost 9 million birds since the disease was first confirmed in early March, but the state hasn't recorded any new cases in commercial flocks in five weeks.