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Bird flu detected in three Michigan dairy herds

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(CBS DETROIT) - The highly pathogenic avian influenza virus has been detected in three Michigan dairy herds in three counties, according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).

Officials say the virus was detected in Ionia, Isabella and Ottawa counties. This comes two weeks after HPAI was detected in a herd in Montcalm County that received cows from Texas, bringing the total number of impacted dairy herds to four. The virus was also detected in a commercial poultry facility in Ionia County.

"What is happening with HPAI in Michigan mirrors what is happening in states across the country. This virus does not stop at county or state lines, which is why we must all be on high alert. This news is unfortunate and upsetting for our poultry and dairy farming families and communities," said MDARD director Tim Boring in a statement. "Experts from across the nation continue to assess this situation and provide insights into the role of HPAI in the affected livestock as they become aware. MDARD continues working with our federal, state, and local partners to respond robustly to this disease."

The virus, which was first detected in 2022, is highly contagious in birds and poultry and can spread to wild birds and other animals and through exposed items such as feed, equipment or clothing and shoes of caretakers.

MDARD officials say the commercial milk supply remains safe due to pasteurization and federal animal health regulations. Producers who are concerned should contact their veterinarian.

Dairies are urged to limit people coming in to employees and essential personnel and wash hands often.

"HPAI doesn't affect dairy cows the same way as it does with poultry. With proper veterinary care, cows are recovering. Biosecurity is the best line of defense. Still, we want to stress working with your veterinarian is fundamental for the recovery of affected dairy cows," said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland in a statement. "It continues to be vitally important for producers to work with their veterinarian, minimize the number of visitors to their farms, prevent contact between their animals and wildlife, and continue to monitor the health of animals vigilantly." 

Anyone who suspects exposure to the virus can contact MDARD at 800-292-3939 during the daytime and 517-373-0440 after hours.

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