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Agriculture officials ask Michiganders to leave bird feeders empty, to reduce spread of Avian Flu

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

State agriculture officials are asking Michiganders for help dealing with a resurgence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) — commonly known as bird flu.

The disease is caused a contagious virus that can be spread in various ways from flock to flock.

There’s been a recent outbreak at a farm in Lapeer County. This is the third detection of the virus in Lapeer County this year. The farm has been placed under quarantine to protect other flocks in Michigan. The flock contained approximately 530 birds of various species. The birds will be euthanized, the state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said.

“While there has not been a detection of HPAI in Michigan’s domestic birds since mid-October, this latest detection is evidence of how the virus continues to circulate in the environment and how there is still a risk for the virus as wild birds complete their fall migration,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland.

This year, outbreaks on large farms and backyard chicken coops have forced tens of thousands of birds to be euthanized.

Jennifer Holton is a spokesperson for the state agriculture department. She said the department will soon begin an assessment of its response to this year’s avian flu outbreak.

“What worked? What didn’t? Where can we improve? What do we need going forward?” said Holton.

Holton said migratory birds are currently passing through Michigan. Some are likely carrying Avian Flu.

She said Michiganders can help stop the spread by not feeding wild waterfowl and suspending their use of backyard bird feeders.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the public health risk associated with this avian influenza detection remains low. Also, state agriculture officials say no birds or bird products infected with bird flu will enter the commercial food chain — though they remind Michiganders to properly handle and cook all poultry and eggs.

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Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting. During his two and a half decades in broadcasting, Steve has won numerous awards, including accolades from the Associated Press and Radio and Television News Directors Association. Away from the broadcast booth, Steve is an avid reader and movie fanatic. Q&A