MDARD Urges Continued Protection Against Avian Influenza

Lansing, MI - With an additional detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in a Michigan domestic flock and more cases of the disease being found in neighboring states, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is urging Michiganders to continue to remain vigilant and actively take precautions to limit the spread of the virus—such as not feeding wild waterfowl and continuing to suspend their use of backyard bird feeders.

Following an investigation by MDARD, the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory detected the presence of HPAI in a domestic poultry flock from Lapeer County. This case marks the third detection of HPAI in Lapeer County this year. The premises is currently under quarantine to protect other flocks in Michigan, and the birds will be depopulated to prevent disease spread. The flock contained approximately 530 birds of various species.

“While there has not been a detection of HPAI in Michigan’s domestic birds since mid-October, this latest detection is evidence of how the virus continues to circulate in the environment and how there is still a risk for the virus as wild birds complete their fall migration,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland. “It is still vitally important for everyone to avoid attracting wild birds to their property—especially if they have a poultry flock. Keeping Michigan’s domestic birds healthy and safe remains a team effort.”

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

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.

MDARD is continuing to work diligently with local, state, and federal partners to quickly respond to reports of sick or dead domestic birds to best mitigate the spread of HPAI and provide outreach.

Reporting Possible Cases

For Domestic Birds

Domestic bird owners and caretakers should watch for multiple sudden deaths in the flock, a drop in egg production, a significant decrease in water consumption, or an increase in sick birds. If avian influenza is suspected in domestic birds, contact MDARD immediately at 800-292-3939 (daytime) or 517-373-0440 (after-hours).

For Wild Birds

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

  • Using the DNR’s Eyes in the Field app. Choose the “Diseased Wildlife” option among the selections for “Observation Forms.”
  • Calling the DNR Wildlife Disease Laboratory at 517-336-5030.

Stay Up to Date

Subscribe to receive email notifications by visiting MDARD’s website and clicking on the “Avian Influenza” link. After entering a valid email address, subscribers will receive updates and alerts regarding the status of avian influenza in Michigan whenever there are new developments to report. Additional resources can also be found at Michigan.gov/BirdFlu.

More information on avian influenza and how to protect flocks through preventative measures can be found on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website.

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