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Avian Influenza Detected In Michigan's First Commercial Poultry Flock

(CBS DETROIT) -- The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has reached the first commercial poultry flock in Michigan, according to the state Department of Agriculture & Rural Development on Wednesday.

Officials say the virus was detected in Muskegon County. The premises 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," State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland said in a statement.

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

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, HPAI virus strains "are extremely infectious, often fatal to chickens, and can spread rapidly from flock to flock."

"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," Wineland said.

MDARD says it is responding to 12 cases of non-commercial backyard flocks from nine counties across the state.

Last month, two pet parrots living with a family in Washtenaw County succumbed to the virus.

On Tuesday, MDARD announced it was stopping bird exhibitions effective immediately until Michigan can go 30 days without new detection of HPAI.

"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 of the 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."

Residents are urged to remove outdoor bird feeders could help reduce the spread of the virus.

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