Following an investigation by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory has detected the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza in a backyard flock from Cass County.
This is the first case of HPAI in Cass County since the disease was first detected in the state in 2022, and the first detection of the disease in Michigan since March 2023. As the fall migration of wild birds continues, it is crucial for every bird owner to take steps to protect their flock from this virus.
“While there have been fewer detections of HPAI in the United States and Michigan this year, the threat posed by this virus was never fully eliminated," said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland. "Even though this detection is unfortunate, it is not unexpected, as cases of HPAI continue to be discovered both nationally and in Michigan’s wildlife, meaning the virus is still very present and circulating in the environment.”
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 will be depopulated to prevent disease spread. The flock contained approximately 60 birds of various species.
“The best strategy any bird owner has against this disease is prevention. It is essential to continue taking precautionary measures to protect flocks from wild birds and the germs they could be carrying," Wineland said.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the public health risk associated with avian influenza remains low. The CDC has detected HPAI in wild birds in all 50 states and in poultry in 47 states, but, to date, only one human in the country has been reported positive for HPAI. Also, 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 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.
- Clean and disinfect 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 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.
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 preventative measures can be found on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website.