MEEKER COUNTY, MN – Hundreds of double-crested cormorants and ring-billed gulls on Pigeon Lake in Meeker County and Minnesota Lake in Faribault County have died from an avian virus suspected to be Newcastle disease, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Final laboratory test results are expected later this month, said Erika Butler, DNR wildlife veterinarian.
As of last week, an estimated 700 cormorants, 100 pelicans, and a small number of gulls, herons and egrets had been found sick and dead at Pigeon Lake on Minnesota Highway 15 south of Dassel. Fewer than 100 birds were affected at Minnesota Lake.
Newcastle disease is a viral disease that most commonly infects cormorants, but also affects 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.
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 Newcastle disease.
Read more in next Monday’s enterprise Dispatch.