Avian influenza (bird flu) strain has been detected in a a junior goat in the US for the first time.

In Minnesota, a Stevens County goat kid residing on a farm with a Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI)-positive poultry flock tested positive for the same virus.

This is the first US detection of HPAI in a domestic ruminant (cattle, sheep, goats, and their relatives), according to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health.

All poultry on the property were already quarantined from the February HPAI detection.

Following the confirmation of HPAI in the goat, the board quarantined all other species on the premises.

The board is working with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate the transmission of the virus in this case.

Bird flu in animal

Minnesota state veterinarian, Dr. Brian Hoefs said: “This finding is significant because, while the spring migration is definitely a higher risk transmission period for poultry, it highlights the possibility of the virus infecting other animals on farms with multiple species.

“Thankfully, research to-date has shown mammals appear to be dead-end hosts, which means they’re unlikely to spread HPAI further.”

Earlier this month the owner notified the Minnesota Board of Animal Health of unusual deaths of newly kidded goats on the property where a backyard poultry flock was depopulated due to HPAI in February.

The goats and poultry had access to the same space, including a shared water source.

One of the goat carcasses was taken to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL), where it tested positive for influenza A.

The National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) later confirmed H5N1 HPAI, which is the same virus circulating in the US outbreak that began in 2022.

Samples from the adult goats were negative for HPAI and all appear healthy; no more sick goat kids have been reported since March 11.

HPAI has been previously diagnosed in other mammalian species such as skunks, dogs and cats. Animals with weakened or immature immune systems, like the goat kids in this case, are at higher risk of contracting disease.

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There has been limited experimental data on HPAI infection in ruminants, and there are no prior reports of natural HPAI infection in goats.

USDA has tracked more than 200 detections of HPAI in mammals across the country since the start of the 2022 HPAI outbreak.


The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) provided recommendations for personal protective equipment (PPE) and is monitoring the health of those in direct contact with the infected goats.

Anyone who develops respiratory or gastrointestinal symptoms after exposure to the goats may be voluntarily tested for avian influenza and other respiratory pathogens.

The risk to the public has been deemed to be extremely low, and any risk of infection is limited to people in direct contact with infected animals.

To date, no people in the United States have become ill following contact with mammals infected with this virus.

According to health authorities, biosecurity is the first line of defence for anyone to protect their animals from disease and includes simple measures such as: cleaning equipment and housing regularly; separating livestock from wild animals; and calling a vet when animals appear sick.

Bird flu monitoring in US

USDA confirmed HPAI in a commercial flock in the US on February 8, 2022. Since then, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has worked swiftly to identify and respond to detections and mitigate the virus’ impact on U.S. poultry production and trade.

Detections are higher in autumn and spring as wild birds spread the virus as they migrate to their seasonal homes.

There are more than 368.2 million egg-laying chickens in the Us. In 2022, more than 9.5 billion broiler chickens and 208 million turkeys were processed in the US.

According to USDA, in the past 30 days there have been 17 flocks tested and confirmed as having HPAI in the US.