Michigan agency: Bird flu found in backyard flock

Associated Press

Lansing — Avian influenza has been confirmed in a backyard poultry flock in Livingston County, the state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said Friday, bringing to four the number of southeastern Michigan counties where the virus has been detected.

The premise where the bird flu was found is under quarantine and the birds have been destroyed to prevent further spread of the virus, the department said. The flock contained about 20 birds of multiple species, it said.

The finding underscores the “ongoing high risk for the disease in Michigan,” the department said in urging poultry owners “to implement every strategy necessary to protect their flocks.”

Bird flu can spread in various ways, including by wild birds, through contact with infected poultry, by equipment, and on the clothing and shoes of caretakers, the department said.

“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,” State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland said.

The department recommends preventing contact between domestic and wild birds by bringing them indoors or ensuring their outdoor area is fully enclosed, washing hands and disinfecting gear before and after handling birds and when moving between different coops.

It also recommends keeping poultry feed secure to ensure no contact between the feed/feed ingredients and wild birds or rodents.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said March 24 that bird flu had been detected in free-ranging Canada geese and tundra swans from St. Clair County, in snowy owls from Macomb County and in a mute swan from Monroe County. It has been confirmed in both commercial and backyard flocks in 24 states.

Avian influenza does not present an immediate public health concern and no human cases have been detected in the U.S.