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Bird flu detected in Michigan poultry flock

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Published: May. 11, 2022 at 2:14 PM EDT
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MUSKEGON CO., Mich. (WNEM) - The first case of the highly contagious avian influenza (HPAI) in a commercial poultry flock in Michigan has been found in Muskegon County.

The virus can spread in various ways, including through wild birds, contact with infected poultry, equipment and from shoes and clothing worn by caretakers.

The infected flock is currently under quarantine.

“Before Michigan’s first detection of HPAI in backyard poultry in late February, MDARD has been preparing for all types of outbreak scenarios, including within a commercial setting, allowing the department to take swift action in partnership with the producer. The department has already identified a control area and surveillance zone to monitor for and prevent further spread of the virus,” said State Veterinarian Nora Wineland. “We will continue to ask every poultry owner, whether a backyard owner or commercial grower, to take preventative actions to help stop the spread of HPAI. It’s a team effort to defend the flocks in Michigan.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the public health risk remains low.

The virus does not present a food safety risk, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said (MDARD). Meat and eggs are safe to eat when handled and cooked properly, MDARD said.

“While human health risk is low regarding HPAI, Michigan’s 45 local health departments are working in conjunction with our state partners to monitor those at higher risk for exposure and help protect overall public health,” said Norm Hess, Executive Director, Michigan Association for Local Public Health. “Local health officers are an essential part of emergency response, including HPAI, by monitoring and assisting responders to limit potential spread.”

A few steps to protect the health of domestic birds are:

  • 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 as well as when moving between different coops.
  • Disinfecting boots and other gear when moving between coops.
  • Do not share equipment or other supplies between coops or other farms.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting equipment and other supplies between uses. If it cannot be disinfected, discard it.
  • Using well or municipal water as drinking water for birds.
  • Keep poultry feed secure to ensure there is no contact between the feed/feed ingredients and wild birds or rodents.

Domestic bird owners can report cases of the virus to MDARD at 800-292-3939.

Any cases in wild birds can be reported to the DNR through the Eyes in the Field app or by calling 517-336-5030.