Contagious bird flu detected in another Michigan county

Following an investigation by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory detected the presence of avian influenza highly pathogen (HPAI) in a non-commercial backyard poultry flock in County Wexford. This latest HPAI finding highlights the continued high risk of the disease in Michigan and underscores the need for bird owners to maintain vigilance in protecting their flocks.

HPAI is a highly contagious virus that can be spread in a variety of ways from flock to flock, including through wild birds, contact with infected poultry, equipment, and on the clothing and footwear of healers. To protect other flocks in Michigan, premises are currently under quarantine and birds will be depopulated to prevent the spread of disease.

The flock contained about 60 birds of various species.

“Even though temperatures have cooled, wild birds continue to migrate and spread the virus. The best strategy we have against HPAI is prevention,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland. “Backyard and commercial flock owners should do everything possible to keep wild birds and their germs away from domestic flocks. MDARD continues to respond quickly to all suspected cases of HPAI to minimize the impact of the disease.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these HPAI detections do not present an immediate public health concern. No human cases of these avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States.

In addition, no HPAI-infected birds or bird products will enter the commercial food chain. As a reminder, people are encouraged to exercise caution when choosing foods for themselves and their families, and to handle and cook all poultry and eggs properly.

Whether it’s a few backyard birds or a large commercial flock, following a few key steps is fundamental to protecting the health and vitality of Michigan domestic birds:

  • Prevent contact between domestic and wild birds by bringing them indoors or ensuring their outdoor area is fully enclosed.
  • Wash your hands before and after handling birds and when moving between different barns.
  • Disinfect boots and other equipment when moving between barns.
  • Do not share equipment or other supplies between co-ops or other farms.
  • Clean and disinfect equipment and other supplies between uses. If it cannot be disinfected, throw it away.
  • Use of well or municipal water as drinking water for birds.
  • Store poultry feed in a safe place to ensure that there is no contact between the feed/feed ingredients and wild birds or rodents.

MDARD continues to work diligently with local, state, and federal partners to respond quickly to reports of sick or dead domestic birds to best mitigate the spread of HPAI and ensure awareness.

Reporting of possible cases

For domestic birds

Owners and keepers of domestic birds should watch for unusual deaths, a drop in egg production, a significant decrease in water intake, or an increase in the number of sick birds. If bird flu is suspected in domestic birdscontact MDARD immediately at 800-292-3939 (daytime) or 517-373-0440 (after hours).

For wild birds

If anyone notices what appear to be unusual or unexplained deaths among wild bird populations, please report such cases to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) by:

  • Using the DNR’s eyes in the Field app. Choose the “Sick Wildlife” option from the selections for “Observation Forms”.
  • Call the MNR Wildlife Disease Laboratory at 517-336-5030.

keep up to date

Subscribe to receive email notifications by visiting the MDARD website and clicking the “Bird flulink. After entering a valid email address, subscribers will receive updates and alerts regarding the state of avian flu in Michigan whenever there are new developments to report. Additional resources may also be found at Michigan.gov/BirdFlu.

More information on bird flu and how to protect flocks with biosecurity measures can be found on the US Department of Agriculture website.

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