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Michigan Lifts Statewide Pause On Poultry, Waterfowl Exhibitions

(CBS DETROIT) -- The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development announced Monday it has lifted a pause on poultry and waterfowl exhibitions after no new cases of the highly pathogenic avian influenza were reported within 30 days.

MDARD says the statewide pause was lifted as of Saturday.

The pause was implemented on May 10 to reduce the spread of the virus. A case was reported in the state's first commercial flock a day later; however, MDARD says no further cases were reported in domestic birds.

It impacted shows, exhibitions, swap meets, petting zoos at fairs and game bird/waterfowl fair displays. It did not include or affect egg hatching exhibits, pigeon races and zoos.

"Even though the state has been able to reach this incredibly important benchmark, this does not mean the virus has left Michigan," State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland said in a press release. "HPAI continues to be detected in wild birds throughout the state, which is not unexpected as the virus is known to be carried by wild birds. Since the virus is still present in the environment, it is still crucial for owners and caretakers of domestic birds to take every step possible to protect their flocks."

MDARD says although the pause is lifted, officials are still urging caretakers to follow protective measures to further reduce the spread of the virus.

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.

Reporting Possible Cases

For Domestic Birds

Domestic bird owners and caretakers should watch for unusual deaths of more than one bird, a noticeable 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.

The risk to public health remains low, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On May 13, officials say the virus was detected in three baby red foxes. According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the kits were confirmed to have died.

They were the first confirmation by the state of the virus in wild mammals. The fox kits were collected from dens between April 1-14.

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