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Healthy Poultry, Healthy People: MDARD Encourages Continued Biosecurity with Spring Sales of Baby Poultry

LANSING, MI - With the sale of baby poultry (chicks, ducklings, etc.) this spring season, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is reminding people purchasing and caring for these birds that following good biosecurity measures helps keep both their birds and themselves healthy.

Biosecurity” refers to a series of actions people can and should take to make sure harmful germs are not being transferred from them to their birds or from their birds to themselves.

Practicing strict biosecurity is essential to ensure viruses, such as highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), are not being passed directly or indirectly to baby poultry.

HPAI is a highly contagious virus that can be spread in various ways from flock to flock, including by wild birds, through contact with infected poultry, by equipment, and on the clothing and shoes of caretakers. As of April 11, Michigan has two confirmed cases of HPAI in non-commercial backyard flocks.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 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.

The situation is different for another common disease-causing germ also linked to live poultry, Salmonella. Salmonella is a bacteria found in the droppings of poultry, which can cause illness in people.

In 2021, the CDC reported outbreaks of Salmonella linked to backyard poultry, involving 1,135 people across 48 states. Even if birds look healthy and clean, they can still be carrying the Salmonella bacteria; and measures need to be taken to prevent illness.

No matter the type of germ, species of poultry, or size of flock, following these biosecurity measures are fundamental to protecting your health and the health of your flock:

  • Preventing contact between domestic poultry and wild birds by bringing poultry indoors to a barn/coop or ensuring their outdoor area is fully enclosed.
  • Washing your hands before and after handling birds and/or their eggs 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 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.
  • Not touching birds to your face.
  • Keeping poultry away from areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored.
  • Monitoring flock 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).

It is also recommended to remain outdoors when cleaning any equipment associated with raising or caring for poultry, such as cages, feed, water containers and other materials. Then, store the cleaned equipment in an area where it cannot be accessed by wild birds or rodents before its next use. 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. Also, more information on Salmonella and backyard flocks is available on the CDC’s website.

Stay Up to Date on HPAI in Michigan

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. Additional resources can also be found at Michigan.gov/BirdFlu.