Michigan identifies first case of highly pathogenic avian influenza; Poultry and bird owners urged to increase biosecurity efforts

Currently, there is no public health or food safety concern for Michigan residents.

Chickens outside.

On February 24, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirmed the discovery of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in a non-commercial backyard flock in Kalamazoo County, Mich.

This detection makes Michigan the 12th state to confirm cases of HPAI in recent weeks. Other confirmed cases include commercial flocks in Delaware, Kentucky and southern Indiana, backyard flocks in Maine, New York and Virginia, and wild birds in South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, Florida, Delaware and New Hampshire. All states are working closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to contain the spread of the virus on the infected flocks and facilities.

Michigan State University Extension and its state partners are continuing to monitor the situation. At this point, there has been no ban on poultry shows, exhibitions and swap meets in Michigan. However, the MDARD is strongly urging all owners and caretakers of poultry and other domestic birds to take proactive measures to defend against a broader outbreak in Michigan. 

To help protect your poultry flocks and other birds, MDARD recommends the following biosecurity practices:

  • Prevent contact between domestic and wild birds by bringing them indoors or ensuring their outdoor area is fully enclosed.
  • Wash hands before and after handling birds as well as when moving between different coops.
  • Disinfect boots and other gear when moving between coops.
  • Do not share equipment or other supplies between coops or other farms.
  • Clean and disinfect equipment and other supplies between uses. If it cannot be disinfected, discard it.
  • Use well water or municipal water as drinking water for birds.
  • Keep poultry feed secure so there is no contact between the feed/feed ingredients and wild birds or rodents.

In addition, MDARD asks poultry owners and caretakers to watch for unusual deaths, a drop in egg production, a significant decrease in water consumption, or an increase in sick birds. If avian influenza is suspected, contact MDARD IMMEDIATELY at 800-292-3939 (daytime) or 517-373-0440 (after hours).

To stay up-to-date with MDARD updates and alerts regarding the status of avian influenza in Michigan, poultry owners can subscribe to receive notifications from MDARD. Visit MDARD’s website and click on the “Avian Influenza” link to enter a valid email address to receive notifications whenever there are new developments to report.

As a reminder, HPAI does not present an immediate public health concern and properly handled and cooked poultry products remain safe to consume.

For additional information regarding HPAI, visit MSU Extension’s avian influenza website.

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