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Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Detected in Tuscola County Backyard Flock

Keeping domestic flocks away from wild birds is fundamental to maintaining their health; HPAI will continue to spread as wild birds complete their fall migration

LANSING, MI - Following an investigation by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory has detected the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in a backyard poultry flock from Tuscola County. This is the first detection in Tuscola County. To best keep domestic birds healthy and safe, owners need to take every step they can to prevent their flocks from being exposed to wild birds.  

“Most of the HPAI cases detected this year in Michigan’s backyard flocks have involved direct or indirect contact with wild birds,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland. “Keeping domestic birds from intermingling with wild birds and away from open sources of water where wild birds might visit are some key preventative measures bird owners can take to ensure the health of their flock. Protecting Michigan’s domestic flocks is a collaborative effort.”

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. To protect other flocks in Michigan, the premises is currently under quarantine, and the birds will be depopulated to prevent disease spread. The flock contained approximately 135 birds of various species.  

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the public health risk associated with this avian influenza detection remains low. Also, 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 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.

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.

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.

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Sick domestic bird calls: 800-292-3939
Media contacts: Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724 or Chelsea Lewis-Parisio, 517-331-1151