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MDARD Encourages Bird Owners to Continue Protecting Their Flocks from HPAI as Wild Birds Begin to Migrate
August 31, 2022
Vigilance is still needed as HPAI continues to be detected in Michigan’s wildlife
LANSING, MI— While the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has not reported any new cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in domestic poultry flocks since May 2022, the virus is still being detected in Michigan’s wildlife. These detections coupled with the fall migration of wild birds means it is necessary to continue following precautionary measures to protect domestic flocks and keep birds healthy.
“The cases of HPAI in Michigan’s wildlife show the virus is still present in the environment. As wild birds start their fall migration, their movement can cause the disease to spread once again,” said State Veterinarian Nora Wineland, DVM. “It is just as important now as it was earlier this year for bird owners to take every step they can to protect their birds from being exposed to wild birds and their germs.”
HPAI is a highly contagious virus that can be spread in various ways from flock to flock, including through wild birds, contact with infected poultry, by equipment, and on the clothing and shoes of caretakers.
Since late February 2022, MDARD received over 200 calls about possible cases of HPAI, which resulted in 57 investigations. These investigations led to the detection of 13 cases of the disease in domestic birds, 12 involved non-commercial backyard flocks and one case was in a commercial flock. These cases were found in 10 counties across the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.
Even though Michigan has gone about three months without a new detection of the disease in domestic birds, the virus has never left the state as HPAI continues to circulate among Michigan’s wildlife. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources regularly updates its website with the new cases found in wild birds and mammals.
Fortunately, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the public health risk associated with this disease remains low. In addition, no birds or bird products infected with HPAI will enter the commercial food chain. As a reminder, people should properly handle and cook all poultry and eggs.
Whether it’s a few backyard birds or a large commercial flock, following a few key steps is still 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.
• Disinfect 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.
• 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.
MDARD will continue to receive and respond to reports of sick or dead domestic birds in Michigan, share information with other state and federal agencies, and monitor national HPAI trends.
Reporting Possible Cases
For Domestic Birds
Domestic bird owners and caretakers should watch for multiple sudden deaths in the flock, a 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.
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.