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Wildlife Rehabilitation Center Of Minnesota Makes Difficult Decision To Protect Patients From Bird Flu

ROSEVILLE, Minn. (WCCO) -- A federal team is traveling to Minnesota this week to help control and contain the bird flu.

The highly contagious and deadly disease is confirmed in three flocks of poultry in Meeker, Mower and Stearns counties.

It's forcing wildlife rehabilitation centers to make some tough decisions.

The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota is trying to protect their patients from the disease. A wood duck brought in last Thursday was the first wild bird case in the state, they said.

"Since then, we've had two suspect birds yesterday, two today. We're hearing about geese dying in Como Park, this is just a very different scenario than 2015 and it's very alarming," Medical Director Dr. Renee Schott said.

Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota
(credit: CBS)

They're taking extra precautions when handling new patients and sharing knowledge with other rehabilitation centers across the country who are also navigating cases of bird flu.

The center said after consulting with governmental agencies and wildlife hospitals across the country, it decided to not admit susceptible and sensitive species for treatment. Per USDA APHIS, species include raptors (hawks/owls/eagles/vultures), gulls, waterfowl (ducks/geese/swans, etc.) and Great Blue Herons.

Those who do arrive will be euthanized to protect others. It's a decision that Dr. Schott said is difficult, but the most humane given the severity of the virus.

"They could be shedding tons of virus and getting that into our building, when there's a thousand animals in our building, could really just be devastating for the rest of our population," she said.

The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center asks people to bring patients to the center in something they can dispose of, like a sealed cardboard box. Though human cases of bird flu are rare, they suggest wearing gloves and an N95 mask.

Click here to learn more about the virus and steps the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota is taking.

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