(WFRV) – Wisconsin had its first-ever cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza in wild Wisconsin mammals, and officials are asking people to avoid wild mammals that appear sick or injured.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says that three wild fox kits tested positive for a strain of highly pathogenic avian influence (HPAI). The strain is the one currently affecting domestic and wild bird populations across the country.

Similar cases have been found in foxes from:

  • Minnesota
  • Michigan
  • Ontario
  • Canada
  • Europe

“We don’t have any evidence that foxes are a significant source of transmission for the virus. The three foxes in these cases most likely contracted the H5N1 strain of HPAI after eating infected wild birds,” said Lindsey Long, DNR Wildlife Health Veterinarian.

The three fox kits were reportedly from three different counties and showed advanced neurological symptoms. The Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory confirmed HPAI was in all three animals.

Officials ask residents to avoid any wild mammal that appears sick or injured. The DNR says that no cases of the H5N1 avian influences string have been found in domestic dogs or cats.

If someone or a domestic animal has contact with a mammal showing neurological symptoms, officials say to consult with the local health department, health care provider or the veterinarian for the pet.

More information can be found on the DNR’s website.