Michigan pauses bird exhibitions at zoos, other venues amid avian flu spread

Bird flu detected in at least 9 Michigan counties

FILE - Turkeys stand in a barn on turkey farm near Manson, Iowa on Aug. 10, 2015. When cases of bird flu are found on poultry farms officials act quickly to slaughter all the birds in that flock even when it numbers in the millions, but animal welfare groups say their methods are inhumane. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File) (Charlie Neibergall, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Michigan has ordered all bird exhibitions to pause as more cases of the bird flu are being confirmed in the state.

Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (MDARD) Director, Gary McDowell, announced the new protocol on Tuesday, ordering a stop to 2022 poultry and waterfowl exhibitions in Michigan until such time that the state goes 30 days without a new detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in domestic poultry. This decision is effective immediately to further protect against the spread of HPAI, helping to keep Michigan’s domestic poultry flocks safe.

This stop does include (but is not limited to) shows, exhibitions, swap meets, petting zoos at fairs, and game bird/waterfowl fair displays. This stop does NOT include or affect egg hatching exhibits, pigeon races, or zoos.

So far this year, Michigan has responded to 12 cases of HPAI in non-commercial backyard flocks from nine different counties across both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.

Related: With bird flu cases growing, Michigan suggests limiting bird feeders this year

“MDARD is committed to protecting the health of all Michigan’s domestic birds. Preventative measures are the best and only tools we have to limit the negative impact of HPAI. By exercising this necessary precaution, we can wait for the warmer, drier weather needed to kill the virus without creating conditions that could worsen the problem,” said Dr. Wineland. “By taking this step now, it is hoped that poultry exhibitors can still participate in fair activities once circumstances have improved.”

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).

More: How to protect your flocks as bird flu detected in Metro Detroit


About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.