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Cases of avian flu leave hundreds of birds euthanized in Menominee county

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Courtesy of Michigan Allied Poultry Industries

On Friday, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development confirmed more positive cases of the highly contagious avian flu, also known as bird flu, in a non-commercial, backyard flock in Livingston county. All twenty birds were euthanized.

The cases in central Michigan shortly follow an outbreak in two non-commercial, backyard flocks in Menominee county and the first in Michigan’s upper peninsula. The non-commercial farms are under quarantine.

According to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the two Menominee county flocks accounted for over 350 of mixed poultry and non-poultry.

As this time, it is unclear how many birds tested positive. However, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development told WCMU that all of the birds from both flocks were euthanized.

Officials say the birds most likely contracted the virus from waterfowl migrating north for the spring. They're the most common carriers of the virus.

Jennifer Holton, director of communications for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said April could be a pretty tough month.

Historically, April is the most common month for bird flu to spread as waterfowl migrate north for spring.

Holton told WCMU the department has response plans in place and has been preparing for bird flu in the event of widespread outbreaks. "Everybody is on high alert," said Holton.

Bird flu has already spread to 24 states in less than two months and resulted in the deaths of 23 million birds. Officials say this is the worst national bird flu outbreak in seven years.

The state is relying on farmers, both hobby and commercial, and the public to report any birds who show symptoms of bird flu.

Symptoms include: not taking water, a drop in egg production, low energy, diarrhea, difficulty walking.

"We are working very closely with Michigan State University Extension, a variety of other groups because we don't have a list of where all the small backyard or hobby farmers where they are, where they might be," said Holton. "It really is going to be a team effort in the state of Michigan."

The one number thing poultry owners can do to protect their birds is to increase biosecurity measures to prevent outbreaks.

In a written statement, state veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland said "increasing biosecurity protects not only your flock but others around the state. Now more than ever, it is essential poultry owners to take every step possible to keep wild birds away from their flocks and follow strict biosecurity measures.”

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.

More information can be found at michigan.gov/birdflu

Editor's note: On Thursday, WCMU originally reported only 50 birds in one flock in Menominee county were euthanized. This report now reflects the latest information on cases and number of flocks in Menominee county.

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