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Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza not yet detected in Michigan but found in nine other states

MDARD asking poultry owners to increase biosecurity and register for email alerts

LANSING, MI — The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) continues to take a proactive, measured approach to animal disease response. While no cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) have been found in Michigan, MDARD is urging owners and caretakers of poultry and other domestic birds, including backyard poultry, to practice strict biosecurity when tending to their animals and to sign-up for email alerts on the disease.

Many types of avian influenza occur in various species of birds—especially waterfowl like ducks, geese, and swans. The virus is classified into two broad groups based on how contagious the disease is to other domestic poultry: low pathogenic and highly pathogenic. HPAI viruses are highly infectious and cause high death loss in domestic poultry flocks, with significant economic impacts.

This year, HPAI has been detected in commercial poultry flocks from Kentucky and Indiana, a mixed species backyard flock from Virginia, and over 100 wild birds from several eastern coastal states—including South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, Florida, Delaware, and New Hampshire. Taking steps to reduce exposure of domestic birds to wild birds and the germs they could be carrying is critical to keeping domestic birds healthy.

“Protecting the health of Michigan’s domestic birds is a team effort between poultry owners, veterinarians, and MDARD. It is fundamentally important to the department to ensure the long-term economic viability of the state’s poultry farmers,” said State Veterinarian Nora Wineland, DVM. “When birds migrate this spring, the virus will travel with them. Owners need to understand how the virus is spread; taking the necessary steps to limit that spread is paramount to keeping their animals safe and protecting public health.”

Fortunately, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these HPAI detections do not present an immediate public health concern. No human cases of these avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States. 

Whether you have a few backyard birds or a large commercial flock, following these biosecurity measures help protect Michigan’s domestic birds:

  • Preventing contact between domestic and wild birds by bringing them indoors or ensuring their outdoor area is fully enclosed.
  • Washing your hands before and after handling birds as well as when moving between different coops.
  • Disinfecting boots and other gear when moving between coops.
  • Not sharing 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 water or municipal water as drinking water for birds.
  • Keeping poultry feed secure so there is no contact between the feed/feed ingredients and wild birds or rodents.

Poultry owners and caretakers should 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).

MDARD is closely monitoring the situation and is prepared to respond as quickly and efficiently as possible should HPAI be identified in domestic poultry.

Stay Up to Date

Subscribe to receive email notifications by visiting MDARD’s website and clicking on the “Avian Influenza” link. After entering a valid email address, subscribers will receive updates and alerts regarding the status of avian influenza in Michigan whenever there are new developments to report.

More information on avian influenza and how to protect flocks through biosecurity measures can be found on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website.