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

No human cases of these avian influenza viruses have been detected

A bird picks seeds out of the snow in a feeder tray, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, in Olympia, Wash. Some areas of the Puget Sound area got more than a foot of snow Saturday, and winter weather is expected throughout the Seattle region through the weekend. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) (Ted S. Warren, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

With confirmed bird flu cases growing in Michigan, officials are suggesting residents limit their backyard bird feeders this year to reduce contact with wild birds.

The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been detected in wild birds and poultry in several Michigan counties, including in Southeast Michigan.

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.

“As we continue to respond to HPAI in Michigan, 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,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland. “Taking every step possible to keep wild birds and the germs they could be carrying away from domestic birds will help to limit the spread and impact of this virus, keeping Michigan’s flocks healthy.”

As a result of this detection, there are no anticipated disruptions to supply chains and no threat to public health or food safety.

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).

For more information, go to Michigan.gov/BirdFlu, Michigan.gov/AvianInfluenza or Michigan.gov/AvianDiseases.


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.