Islands in Pigeon Lake in Meeker County closed due to bird virus

From the DNR
Islands in Pigeon Lake in Meeker County have been closed to public access following the discovery of virulent Newcastle Disease Virus (vNDV) in double-crested cormorants.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources made the decision when about 30 cormorants and several pelicans were recently found dead at nesting colonies on those islands. The National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, confirmed the virus late last week. The islands will be closed until further notice. The closure is intended to reduce potential disease spread among domestic and wild bird species.

Newcastle Disease rarely affects humans but when it does it generally causes conjunctivitis, which is a relatively mild inflammation of the inner eyelids. It is spread to humans by close contact with sick birds. Wild birds can be a potential source of the disease if they come into contact with domestic poultry. Owners of domestic poultry (including small flocks) should not come in contact with birds believed to have vNDV.

Area farmers should practice sound biosecurity procedures, including monitoring their poultry flock for signs of illness and taking steps to prevent wild birds from having contact with their domestic birds. If domestic birds show sign of sickness, producers should contact their veterinarian or the Minnesota Board of Animal Health at 320-231-5170.

Newcastle Disease is a viral disease that most commonly infects cormorants, but can also affect gulls and pelicans. Clinical signs of infection in wild birds are often neurologic and include droopy head or twisted neck, lack of coordination, inability to fly or dive and complete or partial paralysis. Juveniles are most commonly affected.

This is not the first time vNDV has occurred on Pigeon Lake. The last outbreaks were in 2010 and 2012 and also involved multiple sites throughout the state. Public access to islands with nesting colonies was closed during those events as well.


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