State veterinarian halts all poultry and waterfowl exhibitions due to rising bird flu cases
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has announced all statewide poultry and waterfowl exhibitions at places like county fairs are banned due to the growing presence of the highly contagious avian influenza, also known as bird flu.
Michigan’s state veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland says exhibitions will continue only when the state goes 30 days without a new detection of bird flu in domestic poultry.
"We really want to stop the spread and not encourage activities that would unduly impact this virus hanging around any longer than it would without these co-mingling events," said Dr. Wineland.
The stoppage in bird exhibitions doesn’t include or affect egg hatching exhibits, pigeon races or zoos.
Dr. Wineland says this outbreak is much different than the one seven years ago because of the way the virus is spreading.
"We're seeing point source introductions continue from the wild birds, we had hoped to see that diminish as temperatures warmed and the bird migrations moved on. And we haven't seen that diminishing happening yet," said Dr. Wineland.
The announcement comes on the same day the state confirmed its first bird flu outbreak at a commercial poultry farm in Muskegon County.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, over 35,000 turkeys will have to be culled at the Muskegon facility.
"It's hard to have a historical context, when the last time we had highly pathogenic avian influenza in Michigan, we didn't see it in any poultry. I think we had it only in wild birds," said Dr. Wineland.
So far this year, Michigan has responded to 12 cases of bird flu in non-commercial backyard flocks from nine different counties across both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.
For more information about avian influenza in Michigan or the announcement regarding the stoppage of poultry and waterfowl exhibitions, visit michigan.gov/birdflu.
Domestic bird owners can call 800-292-3939 or 517-373-0440 to report avian flu cases.
If anyone notices unusual or unexplained behavior among wild birds, call the DNR Wildlife Disease Laboratory at 517-336-5030.