Private flock infected with avian flu in Bayfield County

Public health department issues guidance as county joins 12 others in which the flu has been detected.

At Locally Laid Egg Company.
Chickens are currently restricted to their coop at Locally Laid Egg Company in Wrenshall, Minnesota as a precaution against the avian flu. Two counties over in Bayfield County, a backyard flock of birds was reported Saturday with the virus.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
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BAYFIELD — The highly contagious avian flu has been identified in a backyard flock in Bayfield County, a news release said Saturday.

The county is one of 13 Wisconsin counties in which the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been detected, the Bayfield County Public Health Department said Saturday.

The county was alerted by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture that the disease had been detected locally, but did not say what type of bird flock had been affected.

“Because many of our residents keep backyard flocks and domestic poultry, HPAI could continue to affect families and small farms in Bayfield County,” the news release said.

Wild birds can become infected with the flu and may show no signs of infection. When the wild birds migrate, they have the potential to spread the flu to domestic poultry.


Flock owners “should evaluate their premises and implement safety measures to keep domestic birds separate from wild birds,” the county said.

Precautions include:

  • Moving domestic flocks indoors if possible. 
  • Fencing or containing outdoor flocks, so they don’t have contact with wild birds. 
  • Moving feed and water sources to a protected area (fenced or in a building).
  • Keeping domestic waterfowl (ducks, geese, etc.) away from accessing ponds or surface water where wild waterfowl frequent or nest. 
  • Using measures such as disposable boot covers and/or disinfectant foot baths for anyone having contact with a flock. 
  • Keeping visitors to a private flock at a minimum. 
  • Washing hands thoroughly after cleaning, feeding, and caring for domestic poultry. 

Owners of flocks are also asked to watch their domestic flocks for signs of illness. Signs in domestic birds include sudden death without clinical signs, lack of energy and appetite, lack of coordination, decreased egg production or soft-shelled or misshapen eggs, swelling of head, comb, eyelid, wattles, and hocks, purple discoloration of wattles, comb, and legs, nasal discharge, coughing, sneezing or diarrhea.
If dead birds or wildlife are found, the county advised avoiding handling them with bare hands. To report increased mortality or signs of illness among domestic birds, contact the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture and Consumer Trade Protection at 608-224-4872 during business hours, or 800-943-0003 after hours.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus has been found in 12 states, but poses low risk for humans — though there was a case confirmed in a human this month that is currently being studied.

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