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MDARD Confirms West Nile Virus in Saginaw County Domestic Bird

Mosquitoes will continue to be active until there has been a hard freeze; take precautions to protect your animals, yourself, and your family

LANSING, MI—Today, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is reporting Michigan’s first case of West Nile virus (WNV) in a domestic animal. The case occurred in a two-month-old sun conure (sun parakeet) from Saginaw County. This detection highlights the importance for Michiganders to continue taking precautions to protect their animals and themselves from mosquito bites.

“While seeing WNV in a parakeet is uncommon, it is not unexpected as this disease typically circulates between birds and mosquitoes,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland. “When birds are housed outdoors (as was the case in this situation), they are exposed to mosquitoes and the diseases these insects could be carrying. The best way to protect birds and other domestic animal species from WNV is to take steps to safeguard them from mosquitoes."

Even though WNV typically circulates between birds and mosquitoes, mosquitoes can also transmit the disease to people and other animals, especially horses. In Michigan, the disease is usually seen every summer through early fall. The virus is spread through bites from an infected mosquito.

So far this year, nine wild birds from Bay, Macomb, Saginaw, Shiawassee, and Wayne counties and 54 mosquito pools from Arenac, Bay, Genesee, Gladwin, Huron, Iosco, Kent, Macomb, Midland, Oakland, Saginaw, and Wayne counties have tested positive for WNV.

Despite the cooler temperatures being experienced around the state, the mosquitoes that carry WNV will remain alive and active until there has been at least one hard freeze where the temperatures fall below 28 degrees Fahrenheit.

Keeping pet birds indoors will minimize their potential contact with mosquitoes and help them stay healthy. There is no approved vaccine against WNV for birds.

To prevent the occurrence of this disease in animals, owners can:

Eliminate standing water on the property—i.e., fill in puddles, repair eaves, and change the water in buckets and bowls at least once a day.
Talk to a veterinarian about vaccinating horses against WNV and other mosquito-borne diseases.
Place livestock in a barn under fans (as mosquitoes are not strong flyers) and pets inside the home during peak mosquito activity from dusk to dawn.
Use an insect repellant on animals that is approved for the species.
Contact a veterinarian if an animal shows signs of illness.

Please also note that various mosquito-borne diseases (like WNV) are reportable to MDARD. Cases can be reported by completing and submitting a Reportable Disease Form to mireportableanimal@michigan.gov.

If a Michigan animal is suspected of having WNV or Eastern Equine Encephalitis, there is still funding available under an arbovirus grant to cover these testing costs. Please contact MDARD at 800-292-3939 for more details.

For more information about WNV, please visit www.michigan.gov/wnv.

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