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More cases of avian flu have been confirmed in Michigan

Thomas Dewey
Waterfowl like Canadian geese are some of the most common carriers of avian influenza.

Cases of the highly contagious avian flu, also known as bird flu, was recently reported in Macomb, Monroe, and St. Clair counties.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development along with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources confirmed the cases were found in non-commercials birds: Canadian gees, snow owls and swans.

The last confirmed cases of the avian flu in Michigan were this past February in Kalamazoo county.

And although avian flu has not reached any commercial bird farms in the state, if it does, the consequences could be devastating.

Andrew Lafountain is a poultry producer and owner of Alpine Forest Farm in Gaylord. He says bird flu is so contagious that it could wipe out an entire flock in a week.

“And if one of them catches it," said Lafountain, "the USDA protocol is that you have to kill off the remaining birds to try and prevent the spread. And then you have to start over with a whole new flock.”

Lafountain farms pasture raised poultry and only has around 200 birds at a time, unlike conventional farmers who may have several thousand birds.

He said he's concerned about the potential spread of avian flu in Michigan, but is not panicking.

NPR reported several outbreaks of the avian flu in Iowa and producers are having to euthanize their flocks.

Lafountain said the American Pastured Poultry Producer Association has released resources for producers on how best to protect their flocks.

Biosecurity is one of the most important measures producers can take to keep the flock safe from wild birds who may be carriers of the disease.

Lafountain said he is lucky to not have any ponds or rivers near his pasture where he raises his birds.

“But those are areas of concern where you're watching to see if there's contact made," said Lafountain. "The security measures are in the biosecurity field, like, keeping a set of boots separate for interacting with your flock”

State officials said they are continuing to monitor flocks migrating back to Michigan.

According to the CDC, the risk of humans contracting bird flu remains low and is rare.

Rick Brewer has been news director at WCMU since February 2024.
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