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MDARD Reminds Bird Owners to Continue Protecting Their Flocks from Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza
February 15, 2023
With the upcoming spring migration of wild birds, owners must remain vigilant as HPAI continues to be detected across the nation
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 December 2022, the virus continues to be detected throughout the United States and in Michigan’s wild birds. These detections coupled with the upcoming spring migration of wild birds means it is just as vital now as it was last year to protect domestic flocks and keep birds healthy.
“The risk posed by HPAI is still present. As wild birds start their spring migration, their movement can cause the disease to spread once again,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland. “To best protect Michigan’s domestic flocks, bird owners need to remain committed to taking every precaution they can to protect their birds from being exposed to wild birds and their germs. Keeping birds safe and healthy must continue to be a priority.”
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.
Last year, MDARD reported Michigan’s first case of HPAI in a domestic flock on February 24, 2022. As the year progressed, the department received over 230 calls about possible cases of the disease, which resulted in 71 investigations. These investigations led to the detection of 22 cases of the disease in domestic birds: 19 involved backyard flocks, two cases occurred in hunting preserves, and one case was in a commercial flock. These cases were found in 14 counties across the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.
In 2023, MDARD has already received calls regarding sick or dead domestic birds and initiated responses. So far this year, two potential cases of the disease have been investigated; both were negative for HPAI.
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, diarrhea, sneezing/coughing, 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.