Michigan Agriculture and Wildlife experts said Friday that highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been detected in nine counties in Michigan over the past two months, most recently in a nonprofit poultry farm in Auckland County.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the University of Michigan Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory say the risk of disease remains high while cold temperatures and humidity remain, and poultry owners should take steps to protect their herds.
HPAI is considered a highly contagious virus that can be transmitted from herd to herd in a variety of ways, including through wild birds, to infected poultry, equipment, and guard clothing and footwear.
To protect other herds in Michigan, Auckland County buildings are currently quarantined and birds are being destroyed to prevent the spread of the disease, officials said. The affected herd contained about 40 birds of various species.
“Currently, HPAI continues to spread, mainly through the migration of wild birds,” said the state veterinarian. Nora Wineland said in a release. “Poultry owners need to keep their herds away from lakes where wild birds come from, bring their herds home and follow other protocols to prevent the virus from entering the birds.
“Every preventive action taken has an impact,” Wineland said. “At MDARD, we will cover this disease quickly and help protect it from spreading.”
In Michigan, bird flu has been reported in Brunche, Calamazu, Livingston, Macomb, Menomini, Auckland, Saginau, Washington and Wexford counties. Due to avian migration and flight patterns, it is thought to be present in other Michigan counties. At least 30 states say they have contracted bird flu.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is a “very low” risk to humans from bird flu, said Eric Hilliard, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Department.
“There are no worries for people or for keeping birds in the yard,” Hilliard said Friday. “But the main emphasis is on protecting poultry and keeping them in barns as much as possible to prevent them from congregating with wild birds.”
Hilliard and other highlighted steps are being taken to ensure that no more poultry or poultry products infected with HPAI enter the commercial food chain. People are advised to be careful when choosing food for themselves and their families, as well as to properly process and cook the eggs of all birds.
Experts in agriculture and wildlife are proposing preventive measures to protect Michigan poultry, including:
- Avoid contact between domestic and wild birds, bring them home, or ensure that their outdoor areas are completely enclosed.
- Wash your hands before and after catching birds, as well as when moving between different cows.
- Disinfection of shoes and other equipment in the passage between the yards.
- Do not share equipment or other materials between hazards or other farms.
- Between the use of cleaning and disinfection equipment and other means. If it cannot be disinfected, dispose of it.
- Use well or municipal water as drinking water for birds.
- Store it safely so that there is no contact between the bird feed / feed ingredients and the wild birds or rodents.
The State Department of Agriculture is working with local, state, and federal partners to respond promptly to reports of sick or dead poultry and to work to minimize and explain the spread of HPAI.
People are encouraged to report any unusual bird deaths or actions to local wildlife officials or head office at (517) 336-5030, Hilliard said.
“People are advised not to touch the birds without gloves, or better yet, put them in a bag with a shovel and then go to one of our offices,” he said.
For more information, visit Michigan.gov/birdflu