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Farmers, Backyard Poultry Owners Must Tighten and Heighten Biosecurity to Protect Their Animals from Bird Flu

LANSING – As highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), commonly known as bird flu, continues to impact poultry and dairy cattle across the U.S., Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Director Dr. Tim Boring is strongly urging producers to tighten up all biosecurity measures to reduce the risks that could introduce the disease and cause it to spread, which is critical to protecting animal health.

In addition, MDARD is also asking any company, business, or organization traveling to multiple farms each day as part of their work to make sure they are implementing biosecurity measures to protect Michigan farms.

“This is a virus that can easily be moved unknowingly on everything from farm equipment to shoes to delivery or service vehicles – and the list goes on,” said Boring. “Our farmers and those who deliver services to farm operations must act now to heighten and tighten biosecurity measures to contain the spread of HPAI in Michigan. As wild birds continue their spring migration, it’s going to take a team effort to protect the health of our domestic animals.”

Two counties in Michigan – Ionia and Montcalm – have confirmed HPAI. “Biosecurity is just another way to say risk reduction,” added State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland, DVM, MS, DACVPM. “It’s implementing and adhering to specific steps to ensure your animals stay healthy. These steps could be as simple as cleaning and disinfecting equipment and vehicles, washing your hands before and after caring for animals, and keeping wild birds away from livestock and their feed and water sources. You can also work with your veterinarian to create or refine a secure food supply plan to further ensure the health of your animals.”

Below are just a few of the steps implement biosecurity practices in your business or on your farm:

  • Delay or stop incoming or returning animals from herds with unknown or suspect health status.
  • Isolate all animals that are new or returning to your farm.
  • Monitor the health of your animals daily.
  • Contact your veterinarian if there are ever any animal health-related concerns or if you would like to develop a secure food supply plan.
  • Sick animals should have dedicated equipment and be cared for after tending to healthy animals first.
  • Clothing, footwear, and equipment worn/used around sick animals should not be worn/used around other animals until they are cleaned and disinfected. Use an EPA-registered disinfectant effective against avian influenza.
  • Do not share tools, equipment, trailers, etc. with other farms.
  • Clean and disinfect the interiors of trailers used to haul animals from other operations.
  • Limit non-essential visitors to your farm.
  • Require or provide clean clothing and footwear to those entering your farm.
  • Use hand-washing stations and provide gloves to those working on your farm.

HPAI is a virus found among various species of birds that can infect domestic poultry, including chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, ducks, geese, and guinea fowl.

For more information on current detections in domestic poultry, livestock, and wildlife across the U.S., please visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s webpage.

Current analysis of the virus has not shown any significant new adaptation to make the virus more transmissible between mammals, meaning the public health risk associated with HPAI remains low.

According to the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the commercial food supply remains safe due to both federal animal health requirements and pasteurization.

“MDARD are well-trained, prepared and able to quickly respond to HPAI. Our staff is working in collaboration with our local, state, and national partners to protect both animal and public health,” said Boring. “Our highest priorities at MDARD remain protecting our food supply and ensuring animal health.”

If anyone suspects the presence of HPAI or any other reportable animal disease in their domestic animals, please contact MDARD immediately at 800-292-3939 (daytime) or 517-373-0440 (after-hours).

For more information, visit the MDARD website at www.michigan.gov/birdflu for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/livestock-poultry-disease/avian/avian-influenza.

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