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Bird flu makes its way to another flock in Michigan

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(CBS DETROIT) - Another flock in Michigan is detected to have the contagious highly pathogenic avian influenza, according to the state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

MDARD officials say the virus, which was first detected in Michigan in 2022, was found in Newaygo County, making it the seventh flock in the state in the last two years. It was previously detected in a commercial flock in Ionia County.

Additionally, the virus was found in four dairy herds this year.

"MDARD continues to thoroughly and robustly respond to the detection of HPAI with an all-hands-on-deck approach with our federal, state, and local partners," MDARD director Tim Boring said in a statement. 

The facility is under quarantine, and the birds will be depopulated to prevent further spread.

The virus can be spread by wild birds through infected poultry and mammals, by equipment and other clothing of caretakers. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the public health risk of the virus is low, and no infected animals or products will be in the commercial food chain.

"Taking preventative measures to keep wild birds away from farms is essential to combatting HPAI and limiting its impact," said state veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland in a statement. "As wild birds continue to migrate and the outside temperatures remain cool and temperate, conditions are ideal for the virus to spread. This is why it is so vital for producers to assess the risks on their premises and tighten protocols. Protecting animal health is of the utmost importance."

Where has the bird flu been detected in Michigan?

In late March 2024, the highly pathogenic avian influenza was detected in a dairy herd in Montcalm County that received cows from Texas. Since then, the virus has been detected in three more herds in Ionia, Isabella and Ottawa counties.

The virus was detected in two commercial poultry facilities in two counties, including the latest in Newaygo County.

Since 2022, the virus has been detected in Bay, Branch, Cass, Eaton, Genessee, Ingham, Ionia, Kalamazoo, Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Menominee, Montmorency, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oakland, Saginaw, Sanilac, Tuscola, Washtenaw, and Wexford counties

"Biosecurity remains the best tool available to combat HPAI, and we continue to encourage producers of all sizes to enhance their biosecurity measures to reduce the risk of introducing this disease to their farm," Boring said. "MDARD is addressing this outbreak from every angle, including working to help mitigate the economic impacts on local communities. We remain laser-focused on our mission to protect animal and public health."      

How to prevent the spread of bird flu

The MDARD issued the following tips to help prevent the spread of the virus:

  • 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.
  • 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. If it cannot be disinfected, discard it.
  • Use 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.
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