Young Goat Tests Positive for Avian Influenza

A Minnesota goat became the first goat to test positive for bird flu (H5N1 HPAI) in the US.  Bird flu is caused by infection with avian influenza viruses, which naturally spreads among wild aquatic birds worldwide the CDC says.

The young goat which tested positive for the illness had been living on a farm with a poultry flock that was also positive for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).  The farm owner said he has had an unusually high number of deaths among his newly kidded goats on the same property where his poultry flock was depopulated due to the flu in February.  The owner’s goats and poultry had access to the same space and had a shared water source.

“This finding is significant because, while the spring migration is definitely a higher risk transmission period for poultry, it highlights the possibility of the virus infecting other animals on farms with multiple species,” Dr Brian Hoefs, a state veterinarian, said.  Mr. Hoefs added that, thankfully, all current research shows that mammals are “dead-end hosts” meaning he thinks it’s unlikely that the flu will spread further.

Samples were taken from adult goats on the farm, but they were all negative and appeared to be healthy. No more sick goats have been reported since.  The MN Board of Animal Health says that animals with weakened or immature immune systems, such as the young goats, are at higher risk of contracting the disease.  “There has been limited experimental data on HPAI infection in ruminants, and there are no prior reports of natural HPAI infection in goats,” the Board said.

NAPgA highly recommends you read the resource articles published by the University of Minnesota and North Dakota State University.  They contain biosecurity practices and protocols to help protect livestock.

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