LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Avian influenza has been confirmed in three baby red foxes in separate southeastern Michigan counties.
The kits in Lapeer, Macomb and St. Clair counties were confirmed Wednesday to have died from the HPAI virus, Michigan's Department of Natural Resources said Thursday.
They are the first confirmation by the state of the virus in wild mammals. The fox kits were collected from dens between April 1-14.
The viruses “may occasionally transmit from birds to mammals, as occurred in these cases, and there may be additional detections in other mammals during this outbreak, but they likely will be isolated cases,” said Megan Moriarty, Michigan DNR wildlife veterinarian. “At this point, it is unclear how the fox kits became infected, but it’s possible that they were exposed by consuming infected birds, such as waterfowl.”
A baby fox in Minnesota also recently tested positive for the bird flu. It died, as did two red fox kits in Ontario, Canada, who tested positive for the avian flu last week.
Avian influenza is highly pathogenic and affects birds throughout North America. It has been detected in backyard flocks and commercial poultry facilities, and in wild birds in more than 30 states, according to the DNR.
Farms have euthanized millions of birds.
On Tuesday, Michigan officials announced a temporary ban on all poultry and waterfowl exhibitions amid the avian flu outbreak. The ban was expected to last until Michigan goes 30 days without a case of the avian flu. In 2015, avian flu prompted a similar ban on Michigan poultry shows.