The disease was found 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. Bird flu can infect free-ranging and domestic poultry such as chickens, quail, geese, and swans.
The CDC considers the risk to humans from HPAI viruses to be low. No human HPAI infections have been detected in the United States. Bird flu has been found in backyard poultry flocks, commercial flocks, and wild birds.
How were the birds tested?
Six Canada geese and two tundra swans were found at St. Clair Flats State Wildlife Area and two snowy owls from Macomb County were transported to the DNR to be tested. Testing was done at Michigan State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Lab.
The samples were non-negative and then forwarded to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Lab in Ames, Iowa, for final confirmation. On Thursday (March 24) they confirmed the geese, swans, and owls were infected with bird flu subtype H5N1. An additional positive case was found in a mute swan from Monroe County on March 15.
This disease detection comes after the state’s first HPAI detection in a backyard, non-commercial poultry flock in Kalamazoo County in late February 2022.
What to do if you have domestic poultry
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said poultry owners should minimize the number of people coming in contact with their birds and isolate their birds from wild birds when possible. You should also disinfect your hands and clothing after coming into contact with poultry.
What is the state doing?
“This confirmed positive finding of highly pathogenic avian influenza in wild birds prompts several steps that are informed by Michigan’s Surveillance and Response Plan for HPAI in wildlife,” said Eichinger. “The DNR and MDARD are working that plan with other experts and stakeholders and taking advantage of every available resource that aims to limit the spread of HPAI.”
The state has a wildlife HPAI plan that was developed in 2006 and updated in 2021. Through this plan, the DNR has canceled the roundup and relocation of Canada geese for the year. There will be exceptions in situations where the health of humans is a concern.
Because of the cancellation of the Canada goose roundup and relocation, the DNR is encouraging nest and egg destruction. The eligibility requirements for nest and egg destruction will be waived this year. There is no charge for permits.
MDARD, the DNR, MSU, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary Services and Wildlife Services are working to conduct bird flu surveillance and to monitor the health of poultry, livestock, wildlife, and residents in Michigan.
What are the signs of HPAI?
There may be an absence of many of the routine signs of illness in domestic poultry, according to the DNR.
One of the major indicators of HPAI is sudden death and high death losses. Sick birds may show neurological signs like difficulty walking, lack of appetite, low energy, or lack of vocalization.
You might notice a significant drop in egg production, swollen combs, wattles, legs, or head. They could also have diarrhea, nasal discharge, sneezing, or coughing.
Ducks and geese are considered carriers, but geese generally do not pass on bird flu.
Residents who notice the death loss of three or more free-ranging birds should report it to the DNR through the Eyes in the Field app or by calling 517-336-5030. If your domestic poultry is experiencing severe illness or multiple death losses, contact MDARD at 800-292-3939.