Highly contagious bird flu reported in Michigan poultry flock a day after individual tests positive

The highly infectious strain of influenza that comes from birds has been detected in a commercial poultry farm in west Michigan, the state reported Tuesday.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza was confirmed by the Michigan State University vet lab after it found its presence in an Ionia County flock. It's the fourth detection of bird flu in a commercial facility in Michigan since 2022. 

While the news is unfortunate, it's not surprising since HPAI tends to spread during migratory season for birds. 

As wild birds continue their flight, concerns over HPAI spreading will remain, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said in a news release. Conditions will remain idea for the virus to thrive and spread in the cool conditions, the state vet said.

"Keeping HPAI out of Michigan’s domestic animals remains a team effort, and it must be a top priority for all," said Dr. Nora Wineland, the state veterinarian.

Just days earlier, MDARD reported bird flu was detected in a dairy herd in Montcalm County. According to federal and state testing, the source of the infection was cattle that had come from an affected premises in Texas before it was delivered to Michigan. 

The cattle were not symptomatic at the time of departure, a news release said.

Wineland said the contagiousness of the virus enables it to spread from wild birds to the animals they come into contact with. Mammals can also contract the virus. As of April 2, the public health risk is still low, MDARD says.

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Monday that HPAI had been detected in a person in the U.S. The individual was in Texas and had been exposed to dairy cattle that were infected. 


CDC warns of invasive bacterial outbreak amid spike in cases and fatality rates

An invasive bacterial infection is on the rise in the U.S., according to the CDC. A physician at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center shared tips on treatment and prevention.

Individuals who have had close or prolonged unprotected exposure to infected birds are at the greatest risk of infection.

There are a few key ways to protect bird flocks in Michigan:

  • 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.
  • Clean and disinfect equipment and other supplies between 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.

For anyone who needs to report a potential case, there are two avenues depending on the kind of bird. 

If they're domestic birds, owners and caretakers should watch for multiple sudden deaths within the flock, a drop in egg production, or significant decrease in water consumption. Those who are worried should call MDARD at (800) 292-3939.

For wild birds, anyone who notices any unusual or unexplained deaths among wild bird populations should report the case to the Department of Natural Resources through their Eyes in the Field app or by calling the lab at (517) 335 5030.