- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says islands in Meeker County’s Pigeon Lake are off limits to the public because of a bird virus.

The DNR says about 30 cormorants and several pelicans were recently found dead in nesting colonies on the islands. The National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin confirmed the birds had Newcastle disease. The viral disease most commonly infects cormorants, but can also affect gulls and pelicans.

The DNR says closing the islands will reduce the chances of the disease spreading to other bird species.

Officials say the disease rarely affects humans, but close contact with an infected bird can cause conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the inner eyelids.

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