WORTHINGTON, Minn. — A strain of Newcastle disease is being blamed for killing hundreds of wild birds in Minnesota and may pose a threat to Minnesota's poultry flocks, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The specific strain of Newcastle disease, which is responsible for the deaths of nearly 1,000 gulls and 500 cormorants so far this summer, has been confirmed by the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis.

This particular strain of the virus poses a greater threat to domestic poultry flocks than less deadly forms of the disease, said Dale Lauer of the Minnesota Animal Health Board. Producers can take steps to protect their flocks, such as being very careful about who is allowed onto their farms.

Farmers should closely monitor their flocks for the disease, which causes partial or complete paralysis in birds, he added. To date there have not been any reports of Newcastle disease in domestic poultry in the state, he said.