Home City park Rochester continues to await bird flu results after dead geese found in Silver Lake Park – Reuters

Rochester continues to await bird flu results after dead geese found in Silver Lake Park – Reuters

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ROCHESTER — The number of geese found dead in Silver Lake Park has risen to nine as the city’s Parks and Recreation Department awaits bird flu test results.

Rochester Parks and Recreation Director Paul Widman said Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials are advising the city to assume the birds died of avian flu while awaiting results.

“We never find so many at once,” Widman said of the dead geese that were first reported on April 24.

He said when the test results will be available remains unknown.

Mike Schaber, the city’s park operations manager, said no dead geese were found in other parks.

While the deaths are believed to involve bird flu, Widman said the state is not recommending Silver Lake Park be closed.

Public health officials advise park staff to wear gloves and masks when handling dead geese and recommend the city ensure residents are aware of the potential presence of the virus.

The Minnesota Animal Health Council reports that the state’s first case of current bird flu was confirmed on March 22 and the virus has not caused human illness in the state.

However, the disease can spread when enough of the virus gets into a person’s eyes, nose or mouth, or is inhaled.

“It’s very rare,” Widman said. “It has to be any liquid from the goose that gets into the eyes, nose or throat, so it’s pretty rare.”

Advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for preventing exposure to bird flu includes:

  • Avoid direct contact with wild birds and observe them only from a distance.
  • Avoid contact with poultry that appear sick or dead.
  • Avoid contact with surfaces that appear to be contaminated with the droppings of 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 mask when handling birds.
  • Change clothing before contact with healthy poultry and domestic birds.

Cases of the disease have been confirmed in at least 21 Minnesota counties: Becker, Benton, Big Stone, Blue Earth, Carver, Chisago, Dodge, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, LeSueur, Meeker, Morrison, Mower, Otter Tail, Renville , Rice, Stearns, Swift, Todd, Waseca and Yellow Medicine.
The majority of documented infections in Minnesota have been on commercial turkey farms, with some backyard producers also reporting dead birds.

Widman said anyone who finds a goose in Rochester city parks is urged to contact the Parks and Recreation Department at 507-328-2900 to have the bird removed as soon as possible.

Anyone finding suspicious dead waterfowl or a group of five or more dead wild birds statewide should report them to the MINnesota Department of Natural Resources at 888-646-6367.

What happened: The Rochester Park Board has received an update regarding nine geese found dead in Silver Lake Park.

Why is this important: The geese are being tested for bird flu, which has been found in at least 21 other Minnesota counties.

And after: The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will release test results to the Rochester Parks and Recreation Department when available.