Bird flu detected in Tuscola Co. backyard flock, officials say

Officials say the highly pathogenic virus was detected in a non-commercial backyard poultry...
Officials say the highly pathogenic virus was detected in a non-commercial backyard poultry flock.(MGN)
Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 12:21 PM EDT
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TUSCOLA CO., Mich. (WNEM) - Bird flu has been detected in Tuscola County, according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).

Officials say the highly pathogenic virus was detected in a non-commercial backyard poultry flock. It’s the first detection in the county, according to officials.

Bird flu is a highly contagious virus that can spread in different ways from flock to flock, including by wild birds, through contact with infected poultry, by equipment, and on the clothing and shoes of caretakers.

Experts say to keep your birds from interacting with wild birds to keep them safe.

“Most of the HPAI cases detected this year in Michigan’s backyard flocks have involved direct or indirect contact with wild birds,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland. “Keeping domestic birds from intermingling with wild birds and away from open sources of water where wild birds could have landed are some key preventative measures bird owners can take to ensure the health of their flock. Protecting Michigan’s domestic flocks is a collaborative effort.”

To protect other flocks in Michigan, the premises is currently under quarantine, and the birds will be depopulated to prevent disease spread. The flock contained approximately 135 birds of various species.

MDARD says they will not be reinstating a stop for poultry and waterfowl exhibitions.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the public health risk associated with this avian influenza detection remains low. Also, no birds or bird products infected with HPAI will enter the commercial food chain. As a reminder, people should properly handle and cook all poultry and eggs.

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