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Avian flu detected in Livingston County

The highly-contagious avian flu has been detected in Livingston County.

Following an investigation by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory reports that it has detected the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in a non-commercial backyard poultry flock from Livingston County. The specific location was not disclosed.

Jennifer Holton, MDARD Communications Director says they are unable to share location other than the county or any other information under the state’s Public Act 466.

“It’s like “animal HIPPA,” she said. “Per the Act, any information (including location) that could lead to the identification of a farm under an animal disease investigation is not permitted to be shared.”

This most recent finding of HPAI emphasizes the ongoing high risk for the disease in Michigan, and poultry owners need to implement every strategy necessary to protect their flocks.

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 have been depopulated to prevent further disease spread. The flock contained approximately 20 birds of multiple species.

“As we continue to respond to HPAI in Michigan, we are strongly encouraging all flock owners to take steps to better protect their poultry and help reduce the spread of this disease. Now is the time for action,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland. “Taking every step possible to keep wild birds and the germs they could be carrying away from domestic birds will help to limit the spread and impact of this virus, keeping Michigan’s flocks healthy.”

As a result of this detection, there are no anticipated disruptions to supply chains and no threat to public health or food safety.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these HPAI detections do not present an immediate public health concern. No human cases of these avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States. Also, no birds or bird products infected with HPAI will enter the food chain. As a reminder, all poultry and eggs should be handled and cooked properly.

Whether it’s a few backyard birds or a large commercial flock, following a few key steps can 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.

Poultry owners and caretakers should watch for unusual deaths, a drop in egg production, a significant decrease in water consumption, or an increase in sick birds. If avian influenza is suspected, contact MDARD immediately at 800-292-3939 (daytime) or 517-373-0440 (after-hours).

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.

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