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Confirmed cases of bird flu pose no threat to Michigan public health, supply chains

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Giorgos Michalogiorgakis
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Creative Commons
The most common hosts of avian influenza, also known as bird flu, are wild aquatic birds.

Confirmed cases of the highly contagious avian influenza, more commonly known as bird flu, was recently confirmed in a wild flock of birds in Kalamazoo county.

Bird flu is typically transmitted from wild waterfowl to domesticated birds like chickens, turkeys, quail and geese. Birds that contract the highly contagious virus can become significantly ill and result in death.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bird flu cases don’t present a threat to public health and rarely jumps to humans. No cases of bird flu have been detected in humans in the U.S. and doesn’t threaten food security or supply chains.

"When birds contract this disease, they get pretty sick," said Dr. Nora Wineland, State Veterinarian of Michigan. "So, we know if they have it. It's very unlikely that an ill bird would be processed. We don't anticipate any disruptions to supply chains across our state."

Wineland also recommends poultry farmers keep their birds inside to prevent their domesticated birds from comingling with wild birds. She also recommends increasing biosecurity measures, including hand washing and disinfecting clothes and boots worn in coops.

"We recommend using well water or municipal water as drinking water," said Wineland. "Not allowing birds to drink surface water keeping the feed secure so wild birds can't access that. The most important thing if they have any way to do this is keep their birds inside."

If anyone suspects their domesticated birds have contracted bird flu, they should call the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to report the cases at 1-800-292-3939.

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