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Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Detected in Washtenaw County
April 18, 2022
MDARD State Vet says now is the time to act to protect your birds
LANSING, MI - Following an investigation by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) detected the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in domestic parrots at a residential location in Washtenaw County.
The parrots at the residence had succumbed to the virus, and MDARD is working with the birds’ owners to finalize a flock plan, preventing further disease spread.
Pet birds who live in a family home are unlikely to have any contact with wild birds. Because the birds typically remain indoors, their only contact with contaminated material could be indirectly through exposed food, cage furniture, or an owner’s clothing. Michiganders with pet birds should not store food or water bowls where wild birds roost or fly and disinfect/change shoes, clothing, etc. if they have been worn off the property.
“It’s important to recognize it’s very difficult for pet birds to catch avian influenza if the proper precautions are taken to stop the virus. For example, put in safeguards to not introduce any material, food, or clothing that wild birds may have contaminated,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland. “No matter what bird species or how many birds one owns—now is the time to protect them. Bird owners need to take every strategy to protect their flocks and reduce the spread of HPAI within our state. MDARD continues to act swiftly to reduce the spread and respond to the ongoing presence of HPAI in Michigan.”
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.
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. Also, no birds or bird products infected with HPAI will enter the food chain. As a reminder, all poultry and eggs should be handled and cooked properly.
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.
Domestic bird 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 continuing to work diligently with local, state, and federal partners to quickly respond to reports of sick or dead domestic birds to best mitigate the spread of HPAI and provide outreach.
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. Additional resources can also be found at Michigan.gov/BirdFlu.
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.