Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - The avian flu is the suspected cause of death in six Canada geese found at Silver Lake Park.

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City officials said that a Rochester resident reported six dead Canada geese at the park. The Minnesota DNR removed the remains and is conducting testing for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).

If the geese test positive for HPAI, City of Rochester employees that potentially had contact with the infected birds will be monitored by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Zoonotic Disease Unit.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infections among people are rare. However, the disease can spread when enough virus gets into a person’s eyes, nose, or mouth, or is inhaled. The spread of bird flu viruses from one infected person to a close contact is rare, and when it has happened, it has not led to continued spread among people.

Kim David/TSM
Kim David/TSM

“It is rare to find a number of dead geese in the park with no apparent injuries,” Rochester Parks and Recreation Director Paul Widman said, We are taking precautions and working with county and state officials to be prepared for avian flu.”

Widman said that City of Rochester parks will continue to be open to the public but participants need to follow guidelines provided by Olmsted County Public Health (OCPH).

“Keeping distance from wildlife is always recommended. Since geese are currently in their nesting season, they tend to be a bit more aggressive than usual” Widman said. “Park participants are encouraged to stay away from geese and other waterfowl.”

Kim David/TSM
Kim David/TSM

When avian flu gets detected in Minnesota, a response zone is created around the infected premises to control movement and establish an area for testing and surveillance protocols to be carried out. The Minnesota Board of Animal Health will determine if other birds near the park are infected.

While people are not likely to get avian flu, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance to prevent exposure includes:

  • Avoid direct contact with wild birds and observe them only from a distance.
  • Avoid contact with poultry that appear ill or have died.
  • Avoid contact with surfaces that appear to be contaminated with feces from wild or domestic birds
  • Wear gloves and wash your hands with soap and water if you must handle wild birds or sick or dead poultry.
  • Wear respiratory protection, such as a medical face mask when handling birds.
  • Change your clothing before contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.

Residents who raise chickens, ducks, or other birds at risk of HPAI should follow guidelines provided by the Minnesota Department of Animal Health.

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